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Against Dictatorship, Against Backsliding? Examining the effect of Serbian anti-government protests on the 2020 electoral boycott

Kralj, Karlo; Sircar, Indraneel; Dolenec, Danijela; (2024) Against Dictatorship, Against Backsliding? Examining the effect of Serbian anti-government protests on the 2020 electoral boycott. East European Politics and Societies (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The power of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has been steadily growing ever since 2012. The party has successfully taken control over all levels of government in Serbia, and the country has suffered from gradual democratic backsliding as a result. In this article, we focus on two protest movements in Serbia triggered by the political situation. Crucially, a number of opposition parties involved in the more recent movement boycotted the 2020 parliamentary election. This article focuses on characteristics of the citizen-led response in local communities across Serbia, and estimates its electoral impact using a difference-indifferences approach. The case of Serbia not only elucidates modes of citizen response and their impact in post-socialist Europe, but also provides comparative insights for the potential for citizen-led resistance to mobilise against backsliding in other countries. The objectives of the article are two-fold. First, the article will use an original data set of Serbian protest events between 2017 and 2020 to ascertain how the two protest waves were conducted, particularly the framings and repertoires, and thus, how citizens respond to democratic backsliding. Using data on municipal-level turnout and SNS vote share in the 2020 parliamentary election, we examine the average electoral impact of protest and, related to that, evaluate the success of opposition parties in mobilising the voters for the electoral boycott. Put together, the article investigates whether SNS-led democratic backsliding is resilient to sustained citizen-led mobilisation, or whether this bottom-up resistance challenges the notion that ‘stabilocracies’ such as Serbia are immune to fundamental political change.

Type: Article
Title: Against Dictatorship, Against Backsliding? Examining the effect of Serbian anti-government protests on the 2020 electoral boycott
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/journal/east-euro...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author-accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: democratic backsliding, protest, boycott, Serbia, difference-in-differences
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10179000
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