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Soft competitive authoritarianism and negative stability in Kosovo: statebuilding from UNMIK to EULEX and beyond

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Abstract

After 1999, democratization, normalization and Europeanization were the key processes through which Kosovo’s final political status was expected to take shape. All three processes, however, were guided by the stability paradigm. Though Kosovo cannot be categorized as a typical authoritarian state, its political leaders have openly displayed illiberal tendencies, governing in an unaccountable manner and utilizing public assets for their private gain. In the period from 1999 to 2008, while UNMIK’s approach was based on maintaining stability instead of democratization, a soft competitive authoritarianism began to emerge incrementally. In its first decade of independence, Kosovo’s statehood remained internationally disputed, whereas its governance culture was characterized by a lack of internal accountability, which is a key component of the soft competitive authoritarianism in the country. Thus, the negative trajectory of political developments did not change even after the deployment of EULEX and the 2008 declaration of independence. This article analyses the development of authoritarian and illiberal tendencies in Kosovo and suggests that the democratization and Europeanization discourses served to conceal soft competitive authoritarian practices in Kosovo.

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Beha, A., & Hajrullahu, A. (2020). Soft competitive authoritarianism and negative stability in Kosovo: statebuilding from UNMIK to EULEX and beyond. Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea, 20(1), 103–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/14683857.2019.1709686

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