Illiberalism and post-ideology party politics in South East Europe

This concluding seminar of the seminar series on the rise of illiberalism in South East Europe will explore the connection between illiberalism and the phenomenon of post-ideology party politics, which we may observe in many countries in the region. Adis Merdzanovic will show how the process of the Western Balkans’ European Union integration removed from contestation many political issues and policy choices by presenting them in an apolitical, technocratic and hence necessary manner. This ‘policy of depolitisation’ structured the political space in a particular, post-ideological way paving the way not only for the emergence of strong leadership within political elites but also for the well-known phenomenon of state capture. Against this background, Othon Anastasakis will focus on the developments within centre-left political parties in the Balkans and discuss the ambivalent and ill-defined ideological nature of their structures and policies.  Post-ideological social democratic party politics in the Balkans can be understood in the context of three major changes: first, their transition and reform from communism; second,  the particularistic, personalised and clientelistic nature of the party system; and, third, the wider “balkanisation” of social democratic politics in the current crisis-ridden European environment.