Florian Bieber, “The Rise of Authoritarianism in the Western Balkans”

This book explores the stagnation of democracy in the Western Balkans over the last decade. The author maps regional features of rising authoritarianism that mirror larger global trends and, in doing so, outlines the core mechanisms of authoritarian rule in the Balkans, with a particular focus on Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. These mechanisms include the creation of constant crises, the use of external powers to balance outside influences, as well as state capture. The authoritarian patterns exist alongside formal democratic institutions, resulting in competitive authoritarian regimes that use social polarization to retain power. As the countries of the Western Balkans aspire, at least formally, to join the European Union, authoritarianism is often informal.


– Provides general insights into the dynamics of competitive authoritarianism

– Traces the roots of current semi-democratic regimes to the period of Yugoslav disintegration and wars in the 1990s

– Combines disciplinary rigor with in-depth knowledge of the politics and societies in focus


Florian Bieber is Professor for Southeast European History and Politics and Director of the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Austria. He coordinates the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) and has been a visiting professor and fellow at Cornell, NYU, Central European University, and LSE.



“When it comes to Balkan politics, Florian Bieber’s book touches a raw nerve. It is an absolute must-read for scholars of the region. Students of comparative democratization and authoritarianism have much to learn from it just as well.” (Dimitar Bechev, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA)

“This excellent new book will very quickly become the definitive text for scholars and students of South East Europe and the Western Balkans. It will also be invaluable for those with an interest in the revival and survival of authoritarian states globally. Bieber provides incisive analysis based on extensive knowledge of a region that he has studied and meticulously observed for nearly three decades. A must read.” (Adam Fagan, King’s College London, UK)


Table of contents


Challenges of Democratic Consolidation

Patterns of Authoritarianism

Mechanisms of Authoritarianism



Palgrave Macmillan


Number of Pages: XV, 155