Conditioning Democratization: Institutional Reforms and EU Membership Conditionality in Albania and Macedonia

Conditioning Democratization: Institutional Reforms and EU Membership Conditionality in Albania and Macedonia

by Ridvan Peshkopia


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, July 18


This book analyzes the effects of European Union membership conditionality on institutional reforms in Eastern Europe, building on concrete examples from four sectors in Albania and Macedonia, two postcommunist countries that have yet to join the EU. The author discusses the theory of "consociational democracy," often considered the key to stabilizing deeply divided countries, and reapplies it on the international stage to argue for how the EU can better direct democratization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781783084227
Publisher: Anthem Press
Publication date: 03/01/2015
Series: Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Ridvan Peshkopia teaches political science at the University for Business and Technology, Kosovo.

Read an Excerpt

Conditioning Democratization

Institutional Reforms and EU Membership Conditionality in Albania and Macedonia

By Ridvan Peshkopia

Wimbledon Publishing Company

Copyright © 2014 Ridvan Peshkopia
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-85728-334-4



Today, after more than two decades of democratization and economic liberalization in postsocialist Eastern Europe, one wonders at the extreme variation of its outcomes. Eastern European postsocialist pathways have led to results as different as democratic stability and economic development, on the one hand, and authoritarianism and economic backwardness, on the other; North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU) membership coupled with vicious ethnic conflicts; and vibrant societies alongside painfully slow national revival. Research related to Eastern European democratization has developed along two divergent lines, one holding a mainly inward outlook, the other predominantly outward. Some of the most prominent theorists have attempted to explain Eastern European democratization by applying theories built to explain the Latin American transformations of the late 1970s and 1980s. Existing theories were well positioned for studying democratization, since its third wave originated in Latin America; adding Eastern European cases would give scholarly efforts a comparative advantage (Bunce 2003). As a consequence, work conducted during the early and mid-1990s was an extension of models built to explain the Latin American and South Asian experiences. The latter claimed universality by discounting the contextual background of the political transformation process and perceiving democratization theories as applicable to any world region. Therefore, explanatory models related to Eastern European democratization mimicked the dominant characteristic of 1980s democratization literature: an ahistorical approach to transition and democratization (Lijphart and Waisman 1996; Haggard and Kaufman 1995; Karl and Schmitter 1991; Przeworski 1991; Di Palma 1990).

An alternative approach, however, emerged around the second half of the 1990s, and represents the current dominant trend among those studying Eastern European democratization. The contributors to this literature try to explain the processes that occur under specific historical conditions and find among those conditions potential explanatory variables. Efforts to expand the explanatory power of democratization theories have led some authors to highlight the similarities in the postsocialist world rooted in the peculiarities of communism. These peculiarities represent factors that set democratization in former communist countries apart from democratization in other world regions. For other authors, any comparison of nation building in 22 European postsocialist countries to other cases of the third wave of democratization would be inappropriate. Arguably, the most useful comparisons are those within the universe of the 27 postcommunist and post-Soviet countries, which share basic characteristics but differ in important political details (Bunce 2000a). Differences among Eastern European countries (EECs) and former Soviet Union sub-regions, as well as among individual countries, explain various postsocialist pathways, as they can show whether or not a socialist past helps produce a consensus about the political and economic successor regimes to state socialism.

The historical background of the region demands that we define peculiarities of postsocialist democratization. Elster, Offe and Preuss (1998, 1) categorize these conditions as (1) the material legacies, constraints and sets of habits and cognitive frames inherited from past socialist regimes; (2) a turbulent configuration of new actors and new opportunities for action; and (3) the foreseeable newly consolidated institutional order under which agency is institutionalized, as well as the measure of sustainability (or consolidation) of those agency-shaping institutions. Since the authors are able to distinguish these phenomena in a time axis, their suggestions can offer an accurate explanation of what is happening and expected to happen in Eastern Europe and its sub-regions as it undergoes reformation. Moreover, those authors have set a baseline for studying institutional reforms in the region. First, they employ the tabula rasa notion to describe the institutional and authoritative vacuum that succeeded what they call the communist abdication of power (see also Laar 2002). Second, in the case of weak institutions, agency chaos and chaotic gravity centers, deceptive and inapplicable Western models, rather than autochthonous preparatory work performed by the opposition upon the old regime, often dominated the public scene. Third, the tabula rasa notion applies to authority alone, not to power; and lack of agency refers to the lack of effective institutional and legal parameters, not to the individual actors along with the material resources attached to them, their formal and informal ties to other agents, political memories, habits, frames, feelings of guilt and pride, loyalties and hostilities and fears and hopes (Elster, Offe and Preuss 1998).

Rupnik (2002, 2000, 1999) suggests several factors that affect the pace of democratization in former communist countries in Eastern Europe: the nature of the old communist regime and the depth of its imprint on society; market and civil society, specifically the willingness of countries to embark upon radical economic reforms rather than postponing market reforms and privatization whilesimultaneously supporting the development of civil society; a tradition of the rule of law and the Habsburg factor, i.e. the influence of the Habsburg administrative and institutional political culture; nation-state building and an obsession with societal homogeneity, i.e. difficulties that democracy faces from deeply entrenched fears that democratization might endanger national sovereignty; the cultural argument that connects democratization with religion; and the presence of an international environment that favors democratization.

However, even though Rupnik's model encompasses most of the key variables that would explain differences in the pace of democratization between Central and Eastern Europe with countries from its southeastern peninsula, the lack of systematic empirical work leaves his theoretical argument untested.

A critical assessment of Rupnik's model using the model suggested by Elster, Offe and Preuss will help to distinguish some relevant contextual elements as prerequisites for determining successful transition from communism to democracy. Most of these preconditions have focused on theoretical debates and empirical work, but other factors have not attracted the same scholarly attention.

The Legacies of Communism

The Leninist legacy stands as one of the most distinguishable features of a postsocialist society; Leninist structures led to similarities among countries and regions as diverse as Central Eastern Europe, Baltic countries, the Balkans, Russia, post-Soviet republics of Central Asia, Cuba, China and Indochina (Bunce 1999; Fish 1999, 1998a, 1998b). That legacy includes one-party (communist) rule; state-run economies oriented toward satisfaction of population needs rather than consumer desires; little or no private property; state monopoly of mass media, extended but mediocre quality health care, education, transportation, energy, retirement funds, housing and other public services; hostility toward the individual and its rights and liberties in favor of community-friendly attitudes and policies; distrust of the army and high reliance on the secret service to suppress dissent; control over internal population movement and travel abroad; inefficient institutions characterized by a stifling bureaucracy subordinate to the rigid communist party structure; and lack of political legitimacy of the ruling elites caused mainly by sham elections that rubber-stamp communist party decisions (Peshkopia 2010, 2008a; Bunce 2000b).

Pre-communist Legacies

As mentioned earlier, other literature related to postsocialist transformations tries to establish causality with the pre-communist history of Eastern Europe (Janos 2005; Tismaneanu 2000; Crawford and Lijphart 1997). While Rupnik's (2002, 2000, 1999) model combines variables from the recent communist and distant pre-communist history of the region, other authors tend to view that tradition from a political culture perspective (Tismaneanu 1995). Yet others authors highlight the correlation between pre-communist economic development and reform performance in postsocialist Eastern Europe (Bunce 2003; Verdery 2000). Careful consideration of all these cases reveals that, since this literature finds a connection between pre-communist underdevelopment and communist dogmatism during the communist monopoly of power, the communist legacy becomes an intervening variable between the pre-communist legacy and the pace of postsocialist democratization in Eastern Europe. While this discourse helps us to understand different sources of various communist traditions, only the latter bears significant relevance for understanding and explaining different postsocialist pathways.

Nation-State Building and Ethnic Homogeneity

Findings about the negative effects of ethnic heterogeneity in nation building, social cohesion and democratization remain inconclusive (Gerrits and Wolffram 2005; Fish 1999; Stavenhagen 1996; Diamond and Platter 1994; Horowitz 1985; Rupnik 2002). Rustow (1970), one of the earliest contributors of this research corpus, has listed the settlement of national and state questions as a prerequisite for successful democratization. Nation building is seen as related to the legitimacy of the territorial framework of democratizing countries, and the latter clearly remains the first prerequisite for democratic transition. Such legitimacy is related to ethnic identity as a supportive culture, a prerequisite for every durable form of political system (Berg-Schlosser and Mitchell 2000, 9). Twentieth- century European history seems to redeem John Stuart Mill's (1861) pessimism about the prospect of establishing representative governments in ethnically divided societies, and to reject Lord Acton's (1862) claim that "diversity preserves liberty." Even the most optimistic authors note that though cultural homogeneity, or cultural heterogeneity pacified by consociational arrangements at the elite level, might not be a prerequisite or condition for democracy, it certainly helps (Gerrits and Wolffram 2005; see also Newman 1996). The debate over whether or not antagonism between ethnic divisions and democracy is reconcilable remains unresolved.

Kaufman (2003) views ethnic conflict as contingent upon deeply ingrained fears of extinction carried by ethnic groups; politicians who want to use such fears for power interests; and the contextual conditions that would allow those politicians to resort to violence. If elites are patient and committed to negotiations and political means, ethnic conflict is avoidable. However, from a rationalist perspective, it is very possible that those who prefer accommodation would be stigmatized as too soft to protect their ethnic groups from imminent threats from other rival ethnic groups, whether perceived or socially construed. Such politics would lead to a radicalization of the political stage and, potentially, to ethnic conflict (Shoup 2008; Diamond and Platter 1994; Milne 1981; Rabushka and Shepsle 1972). Whether it is a matter of political survival, as rational choice advocates suggests, or physical survival, as the region's history from the last two centuries indicates, political leaders resort to ethnic conflict as one of their most viable options for continued political existence.

However, the relationship between democracy and ethnic conflict can also proceed the opposite way. Eastern European democratization showed that, while cases exist in which nationalism and ethnic conflict undermine democratization, some of the most successful democratic experiences in Eastern Europe were not only efforts to change regimes but also to build new nations. Bunce (2003) provides the distinction between protests against the regime and protests against the state, with popular protest in both the Czech lands and Poland targeted towards the regime, while Baltic and Slovene demonstrations displayed both liberal and nationalist features. Differences exist, though, between countries in the northern sub-region of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Bunce (2003) explains these differences as relating to whether the nationalist discourse preceded or succeeded regime transformation: the first case explains the Yugoslav wars; the second explains the peaceful stories of secession, Czechoslovakia and, to a certain extent, the Soviet Union.

Nodia (2002, 2001) tries to bring identity politics into the equation as a variable. The question, suggests Nodia (2002, 205; 2001, 31), is whether an ethnic group looks "up" or "down," in other words, whether "the other" is perceived to be better or worse than one's own ethnic group. Moreover, another powerful reference concerns whether that "other" exists within the same country or in another country, that is, "outbound" versus "inbound" nationalism. The claim is that democracy coincides with capitalism, that its development by Westerners represents the source of a perceived cultural correlation between democracy and the West. Eastern European ethnic groups who look down on their fellow citizens from other ethnicities consider themselves Westerners while perceiving the "others" as Orientals. As for the role of outbound nationalism in democratization, Nodia (2002) argues, aversion toward less Westernized neighbors might cause a country to introduce at least a minimal form of democracy. In such a case, an increase of the mobilizational capacity and a consensual character of nationalism might occur, embodied in a rational desire for national liberation from the domination of a backward neighbor. However, nationalism oriented against a more modernized hegemonic country, whether or not the nationalists are willing to admit that they are looking up at their target, contains a seed of weakness.

This discussion advises caution when considering democratization in ethnically divided societies. Evidence of the destabilizing effects of ethnicity and nationalism as well as their liberating and enfranchising effects exists. Most of the aforementioned literature tries to build bivariate correlations, oversimplifying the social and historical conditions of the ethnicity–democracy nexus in the process. Obviously, the effects of multi-ethnicity as an independent variable need to be analyzed in the presence of other variables; for instance, the level of social development of the country, combined with ethnic heterogeneity, might become a basic factor in establishing and maintaining democratic regimes (Berend 2005).

Elites and Masses in Democratization

One of the major challenges that the democratization literature of the 1970s and 1980s experienced during the revolutions of the late 1980s in Eastern Europe was mass mobilization. Contradictory to models suggesting elite pacts, some of the most successful transitions in Eastern Europe began with mass mobilization (Mastnak 2005; Bunce 2003; Smolar 2002). Mass mobilization forced elites to negotiate, increased the leverage of opposition leaders outside the system and reformatory forces within the system, radicalized the negotiation agenda and legitimized promises and subsequent radical policies for political and economic transformations (Bunce 2003). However, as that literature suggests, since mass mobilization emerged out of the need to overthrow the old regime, the vanishing of the former might also mean the curbing of mass mobilization altogether. Indeed, the rapid demobilization of postsocialist societies returned research focus to the role of elites in postsocialist politics, especially during the democracy consolidation phase, by pointing to elites' ability to prioritize their power-driven interests.

Arguably, the international dimension of democratization contains some of the most relevant causal factors of the Eastern European transformations. One of the thorniest issues in this democratization process is the relationship between power-driven elites and international actors interested in the region's democratization. Some authors assert that the former outweighs the latter (Saideman and Ayres 2007; Brusis 2005). However, others argue that postcommunist leaders tend to embrace normative behavior and to position themselves in student–teacher relationships with the IOs they aspire to join (Gheciu 2005). This argument rests on the conceptualization of postsocialist transition as continuity rather than a revolutionary break with the communist past. In such a case, the inter-elite struggle might be less severe due to an inter-elite pact, an acceptance of electoral competition norms and either power sharing or peaceful power rotation. However, such results can be achieved only under circumstances of moderate elite continuity; in the Soviet Union and the Balkans, the high levels of elite continuity have undermined democratic reforms (Higley, Kullberg and Pakulski 2002; Reisinger 1997). Other authors (Balcerowicz 2002; Laar 2002), aware of the perils of elite competition during periods of "ordinary politics," call for key reforms during periods of "extraordinary politics" that immediately succeed regime change. In order to shield reformatory elites from electoral backlashes caused by the harshness of radical economic reforms, Laar (2002) suggests beginning the postsocialist transformation with political reforms; only a legitimately formed consensus for change achieved through accountable democratic structures and free and fair elections could make a country adhere to reforms despite the short term pain they bring.


Excerpted from Conditioning Democratization by Ridvan Peshkopia. Copyright © 2014 Ridvan Peshkopia. Excerpted by permission of Wimbledon Publishing Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface; Abbreviations; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: A Sectorial Contextual Approach to the Effects of EU Membership Conditionality on Eastern European Institutional Reforms; Chapter 3: Constitutional Reforms in Albania and Macedonia: Conditioning Consociational Practices for EU and Domestic Democratic Stability; Chapter 4: Local Decentralization Reform; Chapter 5: Judicial Reforms; Chapter 6: Asylum Reforms; Chapter 7: Beyond Reforms; Chapter 8: Conclusions; Appendix A: The Demographic Dynamic of Macedonia since 1981; Appendix B: Ohrid Framework Agreement; Appendix C: Analysis of the Fulfillment of the the European Commission’s Recommendations to Albania, November 2010, According to 2011 and 2012 Progress Reports; Appendix D: Geographic and Political Divisions of Historical Macedonia; Notes; References; Index

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews