Freedom House: Serbia’s Democratic Decline Greatest Among Balkan States | Beta Briefing

Freedom House: Serbia’s Democratic Decline Greatest Among Balkan States

Source: Beta
Archive / News | 20.04.22 | access_time 14:18

Freedom house

In a report titled “Nations in Transit 2022 – From Democratic Decline to Authoritarian Aggression,” the non-governmental organization Freedom House claims that, among all Balkan countries, Serbia has demonstrated the greatest lapse in implementing democratic reforms.

According to an April 20 article by the Voice of America (VoA), the document maintains that Serbia has not qualified as a democratic country since 2018, when hybrid regimes began ruling the country. Further quoting Freedom House, VoA explains that such regimes are based on authoritarianism resulting from an incomplete shift to democracy: they will take part in political repression but also call elections. Most importantly, “[i]ncumbents in hybrid regimes rely on divide-and-conquer tactics to dilute popular support for the political opposition,” the report states.

As an illustration, “Nations in Transit” recalls the negotiations surrounding the conditions for the April 3 general elections in Serbia: “after failing to reach an agreement with genuine opposition parties over conditions for the April elections, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party coaxed unscrupulous opposition groups into signing a similar deal, effectively vassalizing them.”

The document also cites the use of “spoiler” parties and citizens’ movements to undermine support for Progressive party opponents: “[m]eanwhile, the [Progressives] backed a spoiler green party to siphon votes from the country’s burgeoning environmental movement. Finally, pro-[Progressive] media chipped away at the unity of the bona fide opposition alliance, United for Serbia’s Victory, fomenting discord with every news story. These tactics turned votes for parties other than the [Progressives] into wasted votes.”

The report concludes by reducing Serbia’s overall “democracy score” from 3.89 to 3.79 i.e. from 48 percent to 46 percent, where 100 percent would represent a fully democratic system.

“Nations in Transit” is Freedom House’s annual survey of democratic reforms implemented in 29 former Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe, and has been published since 1995.

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