Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

The Processes of Economic Consolidation in Countries of Former Yugoslavia

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

The Processes of Economic Consolidation in Countries of Former Yugoslavia

Article excerpt

Democratic consolidation in countries of former YUGOSLAVIA

Before we can even discuss democratic consolidation, at least three minimal conditions must be fulfilled. The first is the existence of a state because otherwise there can be no free elections or human rights. The second condition is that no democracy can be consolidated before the process of democratic transition has ended. A necessary but not also a sufficient prerequisite to finish the democratic transition is free, general and democratic elections. In many cases of free, general and democratic elections it became obvious that governments de facto lacked real decisionmaking power, which in spite of the institute of democratic elections remained in the hands of the former rulers or other powers. The third condition of democratic consolidation is therefore the necessity of democratic rule. If democratically elected authorities violate the constitution, restrict human rights, interfere with the work of other independent authorities and do not govern within the limits of the rule of law, then we cannot talk of a democratic regime. It may be concluded that only democracies can be consolidated democracies.4 If we are to talk about a consolidated democracy, then we must also fulfil other conditions than those mentioned above. Linz and Stepan list five more interlinked prerequisites: economic consolidation, the rule of law, the existence of an organised civil society, an efficient state bureaucracy and the relative autonomy of political society.5

We can measure the success of democratic transition and democratic consolidation through various indexes. The most frequently used index is the Human Development Index (HDI), which is composed of various economical, social, demographic and other indicators. The precision and ability to determine any country's stage of development of the HDI is much greater than any other composite index or statistical indicator. The Human Development Index marks some of the fundamental achievements in a certain society, such as the average length of life, dissemination of knowledge, economic development and certain life standards. The Human Development Index is a more profound indicator than for example revenue per capita, because the latter is only one of the many means of human development but not also its final result.

Table 1 shows values of the HDI index in four different time periods, from 1995 to 2012. Besides the actual value of the index, it also gives two kinds of information. The first one regards the stage of development a specific country has achieved, whereas the second one shows the country's position in the world ranking. The results mentioned are entirely congruent with frequently published economic indicators - Slovenia scored best among the former socialist countries in all time periods between 1995 and 2012. In the last available period, 2012, Slovenia actually overtook three old ELI Member States - Portugal, Greece and Italy - and nearly caught up with Austria. Between 1995 and 2012 all former socialist countries advanced in their world rankings, but their progress is very diverse; Slovenia for instance gained 16 places, Latvia even 48, but on the other hand, the FYR Macedonia only gained two places. The fastest advancing former socialist countries are Baltic States, which all gained between 38 and 48 places. It is also visible that all Central and Eastern European countries lowered their score from 2005 to 2012 due to the impact of world economic crisis.

Very similar to the Human Development Index is the Democracy Index, measured annually by an organisation called Freedom Flouse and presented in a special report - Nations in Transit. The Democracy Index is composed of seven indicators. It includes evaluations of election systems, civil society, free media, democratic government (national and local levels), independence of the judiciary, and the spread of corruption. Every indicator is measured on a scale from 1 to 7, where 1 represents the highest level of the democratic process and 7 represents the lowest level. …

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