Democratic Institutions and Authoritarian Rule in Southeast Europe

by ECPR Press

Democratic Institutions and Authoritarian Rule in Southeast Europe


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Josip Broz Tito's saying that 'one should not hold on to the law like a drunken man holds on to a fence' remains a valid piece of popular wisdom today, encapsulating the problem of weak rule of law in Southeast European societies. This book poses the question of why democratisation in Southeast Europe disappointed initial expectations, and claims that it is caused by the dominance of authoritarian parties over regime change. Their rule established nondemocratic governance practices that continue to subvert rule of law principles, more than twenty years after the collapse of communism.

The unique contribution of this book is in providing empirical evidence for the argument that post-socialist transformation proceeded in a double movement, whereby advances to formal democratic institutions were subverted through nondemocratic rule. This misfit helps explain why improvements to formal democratic institutions did not result in expected democratisation advances.

'Why is Southeast Europe lagging behind? In a broad-based study combining comparative analysis and case studies, Danijela Dolenec explains the rule-of-law conundrum that impedes democratic consolidation in this region. Essential reading for anyone interested in the politics of Southeast Europe and democratisation.'
Professor Frank Schimmelfennig, Professor of European Politics, ETH Zurich, Center for Comparative and International Studies

'Danijela Dolenec's study of democratisation and the rule of law is a major contribution to the study of Southeastern Europe and post-communist democratisation due to its sophisticated methodology, rich empirical research and comparative scope. The book shows convincingly that semi-authoritarian regimes in Serbia and Croatia during the 1990s have a lasting imprint on democratisation in both countries and makes the case, without falling into the trap of historical determinism, that the past matters for democratisation processes.'
Professor Florian Bieber, Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz, Austria

'Danijela Dolenec has written an important, original and well-crafted book to answer the question of why, after two decades of transformation, countries of Southeast Europe remain trapped in low quality, underperforming political systems. She offers a compelling comparative approach and rigorous empirical analysis that identify the rule of law deficit as the main problem. In the best tradition of historical institutionalism she shows persuasively how historical legacies, modes of transition, and patterns of European integration interact to produce powerful path dependent dynamics. This book is admirable in scope, ambition and in methodological self-awareness. It represents comparative research in political science at its best. Democratic Institutions and Authoritarian Rule in Southeast Europe significantly advances our understanding of the post-1989 transformations in Europe and is certainly a must read for all students of comparative politics'
Grzegorz Ekiert, Professor of Government and Director, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University

'Danijela Dolenec has written an outstanding, groundbreaking book exploring how states struggle to democratise after authoritarian parties have presided over regime change, colonised the state and exploited the economy. Historical legacies matter - and states that are more authoritarian, more repressive and more criminalised have a tougher time establishing the foundations for liberal democracy, especially a strong rule of law. For scholars of comparative politics, this ambitious book on Southeast Europe is of great value: Dolenec brings theoretical innovation and rigorous empirical analysis to bear on explaining the abiding variation in political outcomes across post-communist Europe after more than two decades of transformation.'
Milada Anna Vachudova, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Published May 2013

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