Home Human Rights New report shows democratic backsliding in the Balkans

New report shows democratic backsliding in the Balkans

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Iron-fisted rulers are undermining state institutions and freedom of expression in the Western Balkans, says a report released Wednesday by the human rights watchdog. Liberty House.

Freedom House (source: Freedomhouse.org)Freedom House logo (source: freedomhouse.org)The annual report, which assesses the political rights and civil liberties of 195 countries, notes the prevalence of corruption and the decline of media freedoms in the Balkans.

“Many countries that democratized after the end of the Cold War regressed in the face of endemic corruption, illiberal populist movements and the breakdown of the rule of law,” the report said.

It particularly targets Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and President Milo Dukanovic of Montenegro for their alleged efforts to consolidate state power in their own hands. In doing so, they “subverted fundamental norms of good governance and exceeded the constitutional roles assigned to them,” the report said.

Freedom House ranks each country on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being the least free and 100 being the most free, while classifying them as free, partially free, or not free.

Serbia’s ranking of 63rd in 2019 designates it as partially free, a sharp drop from last year, when it was ranked “free” with a score of 73. Freedom House attributes the decline to the election period , the decline of media freedom and the accumulation of pressure by President Vucic. executive power.

Similarly, Montenegro received a partially free score of 65, marking a drop from its 2018 ranking of 67, with the report citing endemic corruption and lack of media freedom as key problems. The report notes that President Dukanovic has held either the presidency or prime ministership for most of the past 20 years.

Nevertheless, Serbia and Montenegro fared better than several other Western Balkan states.

Bosnia and Herzegovina fell from 55 to 53, while North Macedonia increased from 58 to 59. Kosovo also saw its score improve, from 52 to 54.

Albania ranks higher than many of its peers, with a score of 68 remaining the same as last year.

However, the Western Balkans are not the only ones to experience a deterioration in their rating. The report notes the presence of democratic backsliding even in established democracies.

Between 1988 and 2005, he explains, the percentage of countries considered unfree decreased by 14 points, while the share of free countries increased.

Today, the trend is reversing.

“Between 2005 and 2018, the share of unfree countries increased to 26 percent, while that of free countries decreased to 44 percent,” the report warns.


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