State of Democracy in Serbia

Although Serbia has the formal characteristics of a democracy, over the past decade it has in practice ceased to be one. Today, Serbia does not meet the criteria to be ca­tegorized as a democratic society. The study shows negative trends in all areas that are important for democratic functioning. Above all, what makes this obvious is the absence of the minimum precondition for a democratic order - free and fair electi­ons.

Inequality in the electoral process and the advantage that the ruling parties have during the elections are then transferred to the most important political institutions and the relationship between different branches of government. The domination of the executive and the president significantly distorts the constitutional order and the principles of the rule of law, while completely marginalizing the parliament. Inequality of actors can also be seen in the party system, which is characterized by the predo­minant position of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party and the atomization of the opposition. It is especially worrying that the negative political trends are spilling over to other spheres of society.

Hence, we have media that is strongly influenced by the executive, and a civil society that is falling out of its (traditionally already weak) roles – representative and control. At the same time, growing social inequalities are pre­serving the existing power (dis)balance in society and making political competition more difficult. Finally, the international influence provided incentives for the democra­tization of society in the past. That influence is now focused on the regional stability issue and cooperation with the EU in crisis situations, thus occasionally encouraging undemocratic tendencies.

What is especially worrying is this synergistic effect of negative trends in all the pivo­tal areas, as well as the fact that it is nearly impossible to find trends that positively influence the state of democracy. In other words, a re-democratization of society is possible to achieve only through extraordinary effort of citizens, civil society organi­zations, political actors and institutions. On top of that, favorable international and regional conditions and incentives are necessary.