In his book Hunger and Fury Jasmin Mujanović contends that the parliamentary regimes of southeastern Europe are in crisis. The process of Euro-Atlantic integration (i.e. EU and NATO membership) has not significantly altered the structural dimensions of the region’s prevailing political and economic dynamics. Politically, the post-Yugoslav Balkan elite are still a band of oligarchs. Their economic policies remain rooted in clientalism, corruption, and dispossession: a system that has elsewhere been referred to as “kleptocracy.” The coercive power of the state is still the primary means of accumulation for Balkan elites, allowing them to continue to govern as warlords even in an era of peace. Since 2012, however, in reaction to both to the bankruptcy of Western democratization efforts and the retreat of local elites from even nominal commitments to accountable and responsive democratic governance, a wave of new grassroots social movements – from Slovenia to Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) to Macedonia – has dramatically realigned politics in the former Yugoslavia. In their wake the essential cleavage of contemporary Balkan politics has become the determined attempt by insurgent mass movements to topple the entrenched, oligarchic elites of the region, who alone in the sea of former communist regimes in Europe successfully navigated the collapse of the Cold War order without ever actually losing power.
Danijela Dolenec will discuss Mujanović theses, but also give an insight into her own project on ‘Disobedient Democracies’, a comparative research project exploring how protest politics advances democracy. Motivated by citizens’ detachment from the institutions of representative democracy, the project brings new perspectives on the ways in which citizens can reclaim democratic politics. By gathering and analysing data on protests and social movements in four countries of the European semi-periphery (Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Serbia), the aim is to further our understanding of the phenomenon of disobedience.