Democratization theory has been a cottage industry in the past and we have no dearth of theories which to muse over and select for use. From Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel to Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, nearly every “cocktail” of factors has been manipulated, explored and celebrated as the “right mix.” Should one actually pour vermouth into the martini or simply wave the bottle over a chilled glass?
Democratization theory is a multifaceted concept – a political scientist's full employment act. But after all the algorithms have been run and however tidy the theory may look in its new clothes and haircut, the reality on the ground is that it is a messy process. It is often disorderly, muddled, chaotic, confused, slapdash, slovenly, and even damaging to the people who live through the process. And at the end of the day, we can ask: When exactly does a country become “democratic”? When does it join the club of nations perceived as liberal democracies? This question begs a discussion of “illiberal” democracies and the observation that democracies are always in the state of “becoming” rather than of having “arrived.” It also begs the observation that Jan-Werner Müller believes exists, i.e. that “there are no shared European standards of liberal democracy.”
Setting these questions aside, it is clear that nowhere does the process of democratization seem more complicated than in countries which emerged from communism after 1989, and specifically in the successor states to the Socialist Federated Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). This volume has examined the politics and culture of the democratization process in those relatively new countries – Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.
In the Introduction to this volume, Sabrina Ramet set out the six themes addressed by the various authors herein. The first of these “cocktail ingredients” is political participation by citizens. What parties exist and how do they conduct themselves given the political right-left spectrum in their respective countries? To what extent are they composed of recycled elites or do they have a much broader reach within the population? What influences do these parties have? Is it the electorate or are the NGOs functional, or have street protests been necessary?