Dear Reader, welcome to the first issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe! This peer-reviewed journal is published as an open-access academic journal, by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. We are firmly committed to the highest standards of academic publishing, including rigorous, double-blind, peer review and making research available, free of charge, to an interested audience. As subscription costs rise and many libraries have to save resources, we are committed to making high quality research available for researchers without cost.
In recent years, and especially after the outbreak of the global financial crisis, right-wing and left-wing populist parties and movements have enjoyed significant political success in Europe. One of these parties is SYRIZA in Greece. In this paper, we explore some of the particular characteristics of the political discourse articulated by SYRIZA in power. The core argument of the paper is that the Greek radical left party continues to express an inclusionary populist discourse after its rise to power. We examine this issue by utilising the methodology of the Essex School of Discourse Analysis. Moreover, we attempt to substantiate the view that populism does not always have a negative connotation and is not deterministically associated with nationalism or racism.
After several failures to schedule early elections in Macedonia, the parties of government and the opposition finally set a date for December 2016. All political actors, in their own way, perceived the elections as an opportunity to overcome the severe political crisis that had begun at the beginning of 2015, when the government was accused of wiretapping over 20,000 citizens, among them journalists, opposition politicians, and state and government officials. Moreover, the government led by national-conservatives VMRO-DPMNE is accused of dismantling democratic institutions throughout the last decade. Leading international institutions, scholars and think-thanks have classified Macedonia within category of “partly-free” regimes, thus indicating a reversal in post-socialist democratisation process
April 2017 saw a wave of large demonstrations in cities and towns all across Serbia, following the victory of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić in the first round of the presidential elections, held on 2 April. With the largest demonstrations taking place in Novi Sad, Niš and Belgrade, with simultaneous protests in smaller towns as well, thousands of students (referred to as “the Facebook generation”) gathered in the streets marching against the “dictatorship” (Protiv diktature). This slogan spread first as the hashtag for the demonstrations on social media networks, and later in general reference to the events.
When the future or, more specifically, a redirection of South-East European studies is discussed in a series of essays in this journal, one has to have in mind that this is not the first discussion of this kind – and for sure not the concluding one. In an increasingly globalizing world, area studies are under permanent critical observation. What can particular findings related to an area contribute to the understanding of the whole, the global, and how is the global represented in the particularities of an area? However, this kind of critical self-reflection that can sometimes result in self-deprecation was not always the case in the long history of the study of South-East Europe.
Two recent books on Kosovo offer some compelling insights and answers as to why international state-builders stumbled in Kosovo: Elton Skendaj’s, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions and Andrea Lorenzo Capussela’s State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans. Both books are welcome additions to the growing discourse on state-building and touch on some of the more important themes that have recently dominated the literature, including the principle of local ownership, the limitations of technocratic approaches to state-building, and the dilemmas of political corruption and state capture in postwar societies.