This book studies war narratives and their role in the political arenas of post-conflict societies, with a focus on the former Yugoslavia. How do politicians in post-war societies talk about the past war? How do they discursively represent vulnerable social groups created by the conflict? Does the nature of this representation depend on the politicians’ ideology, personal characteristics, or their record of combat service? The book answers these questions by pairing natural language processing tools and large corpora of parliamentary debates collected in three southeast European post-conflict societies (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia). Using the latest advances in computer science, the book explores patterns in the war discourse of the political elites of these countries and discusses how politicians talk about war in terms of common narratives and shared frameworks. Mapping over twenty years of parliamentary debates, the book presents a new perspective on the role of the legacies of war in public space and develops theoretical arguments about reconciliation in post-conflict societies. The wars of the 1990s and the breakup of Yugoslavia have created three totally different settings for remembering the past conflicts in these countries, despite their common history. It is a story of victorious battles (Croatia), past grievances (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and denial (Serbia), showing the different flavours of past wars in various national contexts that are symptomatic of many post-conflict societies in different parts of the world. This book will be of much interest to students of war and conflict studies, South-Eastern European politics, discourse analysis, and International Relations.

We use a large quota-sampled online survey and data on Facebook connections among survey respondents in six successor states of former Yugoslavia to demonstrate that, even more than two decades after the violence had ended, online social connections in this region are substantially related to people’s war experiences of combat, victimhood, and forced migration, as well as to their views of the wars’ causes, conduct, and consequences. What is particularly important, the sizes of the effects of these war-related factors on respondents’ online social networks are substantively large and comparable to those of gender, ethnicity, education, or political ideology. Our findings are an important contribution to the understanding of the deeply pervasive and long-lasting effects of wars on societies. They also highlight the enduring relevance of wartime violence in postwar social networks that is likely to affect efforts at enduring conflict resolution and reconciliation.

The level of women’s parliamentary representation often increases after armed conflict, but do voters in postwar societies actually prefer female electoral candidates? We answer this question by analyzing a unique data set containing information on nearly 7,000 candidates running in three elections with preferential voting in postwar Croatia. Our analysis demonstrates that voters’ gender bias is conditional on the local electorate’s ideology and exposure to war violence, with voters of right-wing parties and voters in areas more affected by war violence being more biased against female candidates. These effects of ideology and exposure to war violence also exhibit a strong interactive relationship, suggesting that bias against women is strongest among right-wing voters in areas exposed to war violence and reversed among left-wing voters in areas exposed to war violence. Our findings highlight the need to better understand the relationship between gender, ideology, and violence in postconflict societies.

The authors use the previously neglected cases of the Yugoslav republics to revisit the question of electoral system formation for the founding elections during transitions from communism in 1989-1990. Their narrative “reads history forward” by exploring archival and other sources created contemporaneously by the relevant decision makers. They build on Rokkanian interpretations of electoral system design, but they do not see parties as unitary or united actors. Their analysis instead focuses on the leaderships and the dominant wings of the ruling parties, and shows that preferences over electoral rules served their intra-party power goals and reflected their intra-party power capacities.

The 2021 county elections in Croatia were the perfect example of political change amidst continuity. Relatively new parties and independent candidates made significant inroads against the dominant players of the center-right and the center-left, most notably in the capital city of Zagreb, where a novel leftist political platform won the elections conclusively. The rise of new and credible alternatives resulted in increased fragmentation of the county assemblies and likely more unstable regional governments in the near future. On the other hand, the party that has dominated Croatian politics since independence, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), continued that dominance on the county level by winning 15 out of 21 offices of county prefects. More important, the determinants of electoral support for the principal political blocs have remained unchanged from the pattern observed in all national elections since the end of Croatia’s War of Independence more than two and a half decades ago.

The article analyses over two decades of parliamentary debates in Bosnia-Herzegovina in order to understand the role of war past in the political reconciliation of Bosnian elites. We show that the discourse of war identified in the Parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina structurally differs from the mainstream notion of Bosnian politics. The patterns detected in the parliamentary debates indicate that the central conflict exists primarily alongside Bosniak–Serb grievances, with Croat MPs being far less engaged. We argue that the three-sided conflict, often portrayed by literature as the major obstacle to reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, needs to be re-evaluated as a 2+1 model in which Croat MPs play a balancing role in maintaining the Post-Dayton status quo.

The last Prime Minister of Yugoslavia Ante Marković was considered by many within the country and in the international community to be Yugoslavia’s last chance for a peaceful transition toward democracy and capitalism. In spite of his popularity, the Reformist party he created failed decisively in the first democratic elections of 1990. The authors expose the reasons for this failure by analyzing electoral, economic, and sociodemographic data on the level of more than two hundred Yugoslav municipalities where the Reformists put forward their candidates. Their analysis shows that the party’s failure had little to do with the voters’ exposure to the effects of the free market reforms undertaken by Marković’s federal government during this period. Instead, the Reformists’ results were largely determined by the communities’ ethnic makeup and interethnic balance. The Reformists suffered at the hands of a strong negative campaign by the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević, and they were squeezed out by the ethnically based parties that benefited from voters behaving strategically in the electoral marketplace dominated by questions of nationalism. The analysis presented here offers important lessons for our understanding of Yugoslavia’s breakup, post-communist transitions in general, and electoral politics in societies on the verge of ethnic conflict.

Using survey and social network evidence from Southeast Europe, we advance the understanding of conspiracy theories and politics related to the coronavirus pandemic in three ways: 1) we show beliefs in coronavirus conspiracy theories are related to ideological support for a nationalist vision of society and socialist vision of the economy; 2) we also show that both conspiracy believers and non-believers are living in the bubbles of the likeminded; and 3) we use the tools of natural language processing to elucidate the unambiguous differences in the discourse related to the coronavirus used by conspiracy believers and non-believers. The supplementary materials, including the survey design details can be downloaded here. And the online appendix with tables and figures can be downloaded here.

Building on the original corpus of OSCE monitoring reports, the article analyses quarter of century of election monitoring in Europe and assesses the congruence of OSCE written assessments with expert views. We show that, overall, the OSCE monitoring reports are highly correlated and congruent with expert assessments. More importantly, the level of congruence between the two increases with time. However, we also identify various forms of biases rooted in strategic interests and institutional preconditions. Mainly, we show that OSCE has a strong and positive bias towards Russia and its allies when it comes to election assessments indicating defensive and lenient stances. We theorize this mechanism as a pushback effect and show that although Russia’s effort to cripple the activities of OSCE in the past two decades was not successful, OSCE was effectively forced into a defensive position producing less critical assessments than reality warrants.

In spite of growing interest in democratization and electoral competition after ethnic conflict, we know little about the impact of ethnic violence on voter choice in post-conflict societies. This article uses an original dataset of local-level electoral results, communities’ exposure to war violence, and candidates’ ethnicity derived from names in contemporary Croatia to uncover the relationship between local post-conflict ethnic distribution, ethnic violence, and the electorate’s ethnic bias. Our analysis points to the presence of ethnic bias that is determined by local interethnic balance and exposure to war violence – particularly for communities populated by the Serb minority. The dataset used for this article can be downloaded here.

In postwar elections, voter choices are often shaped by the memory of past violence. This study examines war as an enduring determinant of party choice  in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia among the age cohorts who lived through the war, and the cohorts who were born after. Based on a representative survey of over 5,000 residents of the two countries, the results show that in Bosnia-Herzegovina, war-related issues and social divisions continue to instruct party preferences in the postwar generation as much as they did in the generations that came before. In Croatia, by contrast, war-related issues are showing signs of diminishing political relevance.

Do voters in postwar societies punish corrupt politicians? Or are their electoral preferences distorted by their own or the candidates’ war pasts? We answer these questions by analyzing the results of an experiment embedded in a survey of over seven thousand respondents from the countries of Southeast Europe that experienced armed conflict since the 1990s. Our findings show that voters in this region punish corruption harshly, yet are more likely to ignore it for politicians with a military service record. This tendency is, however, conditioned by voters’ partisanship and sense of war grievance.

Electoral competition in postwar societies is often dominated by war veterans. The question whether voters actually reward candidates’ records of war service, however, remains open. We answer it using a unique dataset with detailed information on the records of combat service of nearly four thousand candidates in two cycles of parliamentary elections held under proportional representation rules with preferential voting in Croatia. Our analysis shows war veterans’ electoral performance to be conditional on the voters’ communities’ exposure to war violence: combat veterans receive a sizeable electoral bonus in areas whose populations were more exposed to war violence, but are penalized in areas whose populations avoided destruction. This divergence is particularly pronounced for candidates of nationalist rightwing parties, demonstrating the importance of the interaction between lived war experiences and political ideology in postwar societies. The dataset used for this article can be downloaded here.

Over the past four decades, there has been a proliferation of interest in the causes, consequences, and dynamics of contestation over collective memories across a variety of fields. Unfortunately, collective memories – particularly those of traumatic experiences of violence such as wars and revolutions – have been largely absent from party politics research. Using data collected in an expert survey on the policy positions and ideological orientations of all relevant political parties, as well as an extensive survey of more than ten thousand voters in the six postconflict countries of Southeast Europe, we demonstrate that collective memories of war are not only subjects of historiographical contestation, but are also significant sources of ideological and policy differentiation among political parties, as well as one of the strongest determinants of voter choice. Our analysis shows that collective memories are politically contested and that party politics research would benefit from taking them seriously.

Does the public perception of governments’ coronavirus pandemic responses actually make a difference to their electoral fortunes? In this research note, we answer that question by presenting the preliminary results of a survey of more than three thousand voters in Croatia and Serbia conducted on a dedicated mobile app and web platform directly preceding parliamentary elections that took place in these two countries during the summer of 2020. This survey was part of our larger project tracking political competition, public discourse, and conspiracy theories in Southeast Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. The preliminary findings presented in this research note demonstrate Croatian and Serbian voters were rationally retrospective and rewarded parties in power based on evaluations of their crisis management performance. We also find evidence of voters who have personally witnessed the health consequences of the coronavirus being more likely to support the parties in power. We believe this is evidence of the coronavirus pandemic increasing affected citizens’ expectations of and trust in national governments where those governments respond strongly to the pandemic’s first wave, as was the case in both Croatia and Serbia.

Efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis were characterized by a difficult trade-off: the stringency of the lockdowns decreased the spread of the virus, but amplified the damage to the economy. In this study, we analyze public attitudes toward this trade-off using a survey-embedded experiment conducted with a quota sample of more than seven thousand respondents from Southeast Europe, collected in April and May 2020. The results show that public opinion generally favored saving lives even at a steep economic cost. However, the willingness to trade lives for the economy was greater when the heterogeneous health and economic consequences of lockdown policies for the young and the elderly were emphasized. Free market views also make people more acceptant of higher casualties, as do fears that the instituted measures will lead to a permanent expansion of government control over society.

We study pre-war public discourse by analysing the origin, content, and sentiment of more than four thousand letters written by people from all walks of life and published in the Belgrade broadsheet Politika loyal to the regime of Slobodan Milošević during three years directly preceding the Yugoslav wars. Our analysis combines lexicon-based tools of automated topic and sentiment analysis with data on the socio-demographic characteristics of the letters’ authors and their localities. The results of our analysis expose the importance of politicisation of the history of violence for the shaping of public discourse in the run-up to war.

How do voters in consolidating democracies see electoral integrity? How does election affect the change in perception of electoral integrity among these voters? What role does winning play in seeing an election as free and fair? Building on the theory of the winner-loser gap, we answer these questions using original two-wave panel surveys we conducted before and after three parliamentary elections in Southeast Europe in 2018 and 2020. The article focuses on changes of perception of electoral integrity as a function of satisfaction with the electoral results in contexts where the quality of elections has always been at the centre of political conflict. We specifically explore the socialization effect of elections in environments with notoriously low trust in political institutions and high electoral stakes. The article goes beyond the “sore loser” hypothesis and examines voters’ both political preferences and personal characteristics potentially responsible for the change in perception of electoral integrity over the course of electoral cycle.

The article analyses more than twenty years of evidence on electoral violence as reported by Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission reports. It identifies prevailing trends of electoral violence in the OSCE participating states in order to better understand how the phenomenon is understood and framed by the leading international monitoring organisations in the region. The analysis utilises a unique approach based on automated content analysis employing counting algorithms and latent semantic indexing. The results of the analysis show how electoral violence differs throughout the region while highlighting the qualitative variations in regional patterns of the reported incidents of election-related violence.

The paper addresses the question of what settings are empirically relevant for the occurrence of electoral violence in the region of Western Balkans and what theoretical paths may cover their logic. Electoral violence has been part of the electoral arenas in the region for decades and although it has evolved and in some cases disappeared, a number of countries still experience it. The paper analyses original data on electoral violence collected from the OSCE monitoring reports covering fifty-six parliamentary elections organized between 1990 and 2015. Applying fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA), the paper identifies four sub-models under which electoral violence is observed. The conjunctural logic that defines each and every of the discussed paths within the sub-models shows that the scenarios of electoral violence in the Western Balkans are always complex and potentially relevant conditions are never sufficient for the outcome on their own.

Wars are extreme events with profound social consequences. Political science, however, has a limited grasp of their impact on the nature and content of political competition which follows in their wake. That is partly the case due to a lack of conceptual clarity when it comes to capturing the effects of war with reliable data. This article systematises and evaluates the attempts at modelling the consequences of war in political science research which relies on quantitative methods. Our discussion is organised around three levels of analysis: individual level of voters, institutional level of political parties, and the aggregate level of communities. We devote particular attention to modelling the legacies of the most recent wars in Southeast Europe, and we offer our view of which efforts have the best potential to help set the foundations of a promising research programme.

This study exposes post-war voters’ fiscal liberalism using individual-level and aggregate-level data covering a decade and a half of local electoral competition in post-war Croatia. Aggregate-level analysis shows Croatian voters’ fiscal liberalism to be conditional on their communities’ exposure to war violence: greater exposure to violence leads to greater support for fiscally expansionist incumbents. Individual-level analysis, on the other hand, shows post-war voters’ fiscal liberalism as rooted in their different levels of war-related trauma: more feelings of war-related trauma lead to greater economic expectations from the government. Our analysis also shows that voters’ war-conditioned preferences for fiscally expansionist incumbents show little sign of abating over time – a testament to the challenge presented by post-war recovery, and to the impact war exerts on political life long after the bloodshed has ended.

Other publications by ELWar team members

The extent to which voters and parties agree on policies is an important way through which political scientists have empirically studied political representation. This opinion congruence is most often measured by comparing preferences on a number of policy statements. While the selection of policy statements has not escaped scholarly attention, its impact on the reliability of congruence scores, i.e. the degree to which similar levels of opinion congruence are found when different samples of policy statements are used, has been less investigated. This article looks at which factors of statements samples and voters affect the reliability of congruence measures. It does so by simulating over 5 million opinion congruence scores on the basis of a dataset containing 134 voter and party policy preferences. It finds that both the number of statements and their topic diversity positively affect the reliability of congruence estimates. In addition, the congruence estimates of politically less sophisticated voters are more reliable but only when many left-right policy statements are included in the statement selection. Finally, explorative analyses suggest that increasing topic diversity also increases the validity of congruence measures.

The paper presents an original corpus of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs press conferences. The dataset is a unique source of information on official positions and diplomatic narratives of China mapping almost two decades of its foreign policy discourse. The corpus contains almost 23,000 question – answer dyads from 2002 to 2020 ready to be used for analytical purposes. We argue the dataset is an important contribution to the scholarship on Chinese foreign policy stimulating further research using corpus based methods while employing both qualitative and quantitative strategies. We demonstrate possible applications of the corpus with two case studies: first maps the diplomatic discourse towards the US under the presidency of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping (employing quantitative tools), while second analyzes narratives concerning the South China Sea disputes (employing more qualitative approach).
Democratic theory argues that individuals should have their policy preferences equally represented in politics. Research on opinion congruence has often found, however, that political parties’ views are more likely to align with those of higher-income and higher educated citizens. We argue that this conclusion does not account for heterogeneity among parties. Based on an integrated dataset containing the positions of over 1,700 Belgian citizens and 11 Belgian parties on over 120 policy statements, we examine how opinion congruence inequality between privileged and underprivileged people varies between parties. We find that left-wing parties align more with underprivileged citizens than they do with privileged citizens on economic issues, while the opposite holds for right-wing parties. On cultural issues, however, both left- and right-wing parties better represent the preferences of privileged people. The exception is the radical right party Vlaams Belang, which on the cultural dimensions better represents the views of underprivileged voters.

Where do politically activist football supporters come from? What are the social conditions under which they are successfully recruited and mobilised? This article answers those questions by analysing a unique dataset of more than 43,000 members of Our Hajduk – the association of supporters of the Croatian club Hajduk Split – as well as a host of data on the communities they live in. The analysis shows that Our Hajduk thrives in exactly the same areas where most other social, civil and political organisations thrive: among the more educated and more socioeconomically successful. Most importantly, the analysis shows that the pattern of Our Hajduk membership closely follows the patterns of political affiliation and participation in Croatia’s electoral arena and is guided by the opposition to political players who have dominated Croatian football and turned it into a social field marked by corruption and mismanagement.

We expose the way the market evaluates internal political risk and instability in democratic polities by analysing the determinants of sovereign spreads of EU member states over the course of the past two decades. Our analysis builds on the “democratic advantage” argument which suggests democracies enjoy preferential treatment on the international market of sovereign debt because of their better ability to make credible commitments. We suggest that, when it comes to the market’s evaluation of internal political instability and risk in democratic polities, there actually exists a “consolidated democracy advantage”. In times of political instability, older and more consolidated democracies pay less of a premium on their debt than their younger and less consolidated counterparts. In other words, the market indeed views the commitment of consolidated democracies with long track records of democratic competition and survival as something qualitatively different than the commitment of new democracies with short track records.

Issue reframing occurs when parties, while addressing an issue, shift the frame toward other policy domains. The literature has found that party issue framing affects how voters think about issues, yet scholars remain largely in the dark as to when and how parties frame issues. The study at hand theorizes and investigates when and how parties reframe issues in their external communication. Drawing on novel Belgian data about parties’ official stances regarding a large number of policy issues combined with their verbal argumentation of why they took this exact position, we test a new theory about the drivers and mechanisms of issue reframing. We find that parties reframe issues in terms of policy domains that are both salient to the general public and that are salient to the party itself—meaning that it has a history of devoting attention to the policy domain and “owns” it.

Dandoy, Regis, Conrad Meulewaeter, and Christophe Lesschaeve (2019) Constituting the list amid time of personalisation of politics: The balance of congruent and popular candidates in Belgian political parties.

Politics is about ideas. This chapter addresses the question of how congruent the policy ideas of party leaderships and candidates are. party-candidates’ congruence. The authors highlight a paradox faced by political parties. These may at the same time strive to maximise their vote share but also to ensure some kind of policy coherence within their party. The chapter stresses this potential antagonism between having “popular candidates” on the list, and party soldiers, who would be ideologically congruent with their party’s ideas. How to reconcile these two different principles that candidates as agents have to please? The study examines policy congruence from the parties’ perspective by scrutinising selection criteria for candidates, relying on the Belgian Candidates Survey and a party leadership survey.

Panorama of Global Security Environment is one of the most prestigious projects of the Central European security and foreign policy community. The first Panorama started in 2004 and was published at the Ministry of Defence think-tank, the Institute for Security and Defence Studies, under the leadership of Róbert Ondrejcsák. This book is already the thirteenth edition and the second one published by STRATPOL. The goal of Panorama has always been to provide both scholars and decision-makers with up-to-date analysis of the trends and issues of the global security environment. Throughout its history, the book has attracted a wide readership and it has published texts by authors from all the continents. Since 2012, Panorama is indexed in prestigious Thomson Reuters Web of Science Book Citation Index. Every Panorama is publicly available online at the STRATPOL webpage.

Employing the framework of conflicting goals in democracy promotion as a departure point, the paper addresses the issue of arms exports to non-democratic countries as an important research topic which points to a reconsideration of certain fundamental conceptual and normative commitments underpinning democracy promotion. Empirically, we remind of the lingering hypocrisy of Western arms exporters, knowing that exports to non-democratic countries often hinder or block democratisation. This is not easily circumvented because of the many conflicting objectives both internal and external to democracy promotion itself. Yet, democracy and human rights promotion remain, ethically and pragmatically, important policy goals. Noting that the self-evident character of the state-based liberal democratic model is being increasingly questioned in the literature, we then critically explore a radical, and surprisingly natural, alternative vision: namely, if the commitment to democracy and human rights is to be genuine, only global democracy remains a viable way of resolving the many dilemmas, as it aspires to deal both with regulating arms exports and building accountable decision-making structures. Although we ultimately reject the globalist solution and lean towards a less radical constructivist approach, we endorse the underlying rationale that democracy promotion needs to embrace normative democratic theory sincerely.

This article analyses a structure of relations among the members of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, as reported through their memberships in bilateral and multilateral groups of friendship which establish professional contacts between the Chamber of Deputies and foreign parliaments. We approach the structure as a social network of members of parliament and interpret the memberships as proxy indicators of their interests/preferences in foreign affairs. This research shows that interparliamentary groups construct a self-sustained independent structure for parliamentary diplomacy which may significantly differ from the official positions of the government. We find that the studied network has a centralised core–periphery structure, in which deputies who are less prominent and those interested in authoritarian regimes occupy more central positions. This research connects the findings with the current debates on Central European tendencies to look for allies in large authoritarian regimes (Russia and China), for which we argue the interparliamentary groups might play the role of an important communication channel.

Walgrave, Stefaan, and Christophe Lesschaeve (2018) Policy and ideology volatility during the campaign. In Deschouwer, Kris (ed.) Mind the Gap: Political Participation and Representation in Belgium.

The research literature on campaign effects overwhelmingly focuses on how electoral campaigns affect voter turnout, the actual vote, and voter information. Yet, it is likely that campaigns also affect the policy position voters adhere to and even their broader ideological positioning. While parties’ ultimate goal during a campaign is, of course, to convince citizens to vote for them for any reason, this persuasion process may be mediated by voters being convinced substantially about the policy and ideological positions a party holds. This chapter examines the changes in voters’ policy and ideological positions through the Belgian 2015 election campaign. It draws on the Partirep two-wave panel voter survey that included two consecutive measurements of 25 concrete policy statements and of voters’ ideological left-right self-placement. The chapter develops and test a theory about positional volatility, both with regard to concrete policies as with regard to broad ideological self-categorisations,  with features of voters (e.g. education, electoral certainty), of policies (e.g. salience, bread and butter or not), and of the campaign (e.g. party positions, media attention for policies) as the independent variables.

Since the end of the Cold War there have been a number of cases where the democratisation process has been turbulent, or even violent. Addressing electoral violence, its evolution and impact in the Western Balkans, this book explores the conflict logic of election and tries to understand its basic patterns. Two decades of electoral competition in the region are analysed to identify an interesting evolution of electoral violence in terms of forms, actors, motivations and dynamics. By identifying the potential drivers of electoral violence and explaining the escalation and stimulus of violence-related events, the author combines a theoretical approach with original data to emphasise the variability of the phenomenon and its evolution in the region. The book will appeal to students and scholars of post-communist Europe and democratisation processes and the Western Balkans in particular. It should also be of interest to political advisors and those involved in developing or implementing democratisation programmes.

This paper seeks to explain why party candidates and their party leadership have congruent policy positions or not. Despite its importance as a way through which parties are able to behave as a unitary actor, this congruence has never been studied as a dependent variable. We seek to fill this void in the literature. Our results suggest that leadership-candidate congruence comes about through two mechanisms: selection and learning. With selection, the party leadership aims to get those candidates elected whose policy preferences are congruent with the party line. Learning occurs through the process of socialisation in which candidates assume the views of the party they work and candidate for as their own under. This happens under the pressure of cognitive dissonance. If a candidate learns about the position of the leadership and notices that they are incongruent, they may feel discomfort and change their opinion to be congruent with the party.

The institution of power-sharing has over the past years become known as a mechanism for conflict resolution and even a factor of democratisation. While power-sharing proved certain effectiveness in overcoming political crises, its positive impact on democratisation is contested. Although existing research has focused extensively on the relationship between power-sharing and democratisation, some areas of this phenomenon remain under-researched. This is particularly true of power-sharing in the form of ad hoc political practices based on a temporary agreement of political elites resulting in the establishment of a government of national unity. This paper approaches the gap in understanding both conceptual levels of the phenomena through a case study of Kenya as a country which underwent a period of power-sharing and where elections have historically played an important role in the country’s path towards democratisation. The paper provides an analysis of the impact of power-sharing on the democratic quality of elections and argues that the power-sharing government in Kenya eventually contributed to democratisation although its impact on different areas of assessment varied.

Electoral disputes accompanied by violent outbreaks have become an emerging problem in societies under transformation, in authoritarian regimes, as well as in young democracies. The truth is that many politicians elected to office, their supporters, and political activists have altered their perceptions of electoral competition in a form of zero-sum logic with direct consequences for their opponents. After the fall of Communism in the beginning of the 1990s, Central and Eastern Europe stood at a crossroads. This period of imbalance and uncertainty affected the violent interaction in newly reformed electoral arenas with serious consequences for legitimising democratic change. Despite the well-documented tension that existed in the region, the importance of violence in the electoral arena is rather neglected. The article approaches this gap as the first attempt to map electoral violence in a new typological environment where the process of transformation has affected political pluralism and the patterns of political contest. It argues that electoral violence is not a rare phenomenon in the region of post-Communist Europe and the dynamic varies on a great scale. Moreover, the article presents a picture of electoral violence occurring in different settings with potentially different contextual preconditions that need to be studied separately.

Apart from relations with its neighbors, Croatia’s relations with the UK were undoubtedly its greatest international challenge since it won its independence in the early 1990s. Relations between the two countries during this period were frequently strained partly due to Zagreb’s democratic shortcomings, but partly also due to competing visions of post-Cold War Southeast Europe and due to long-lasting biases rooted in Croatia’s and Britain’s conflicting policies during Yugoslavia’s breakup and wars. Croatia’s accession to the EU in 2013 offered an opportunity for the two countries to leave the burdens of their past behind, since Zagreb and London had similar preferences on many crucial EU policy fronts. However, Brexit changed everything. Croatia’s future relations with the UK are likely to be determined by the nature of Brexit negotiations and the evolution of British policy toward the pace and direction of EU integration.

Instead of alleviating fiscal inequalities, intergovernmental grants are often used to fulfill the grantors’ political goals. This study uses a unique panel dataset on more than 500 Croatian municipalities over a 12-year period to uncover the extent to which grant distribution is biased owing to grantors’ electoral concerns. Instead of the default fixed effects approach to modelling panel data, we apply a novel within-between specification aimed at uncovering the contextual source of variation, focusing on the effects of electoral concerns on grant allocation within and between municipalities. We find evidence of a substantial political bias in grant allocations both within and between municipalities, particularly when it comes to local-level electoral concerns. The paper offers researchers a new perspective when tackling the issue of politically biased grant allocation using panel data, particularly when they wish to uncover the simultaneous impact of time-variant and time-invariant factors, or when they cannot apply a quasi-experimental approach because of specific institutional contexts.