Challenges to Democracy in the trans-Atlantic Space – the Year Ahead

DPC is sharing threads posted on Twitter/X for readers not on that platform.

1/As 2024 begins to unfold, DPC will be keeping its eye on a number of issues that will have an impact on the quality of the democratic world and in particular on the trans-Atlantic space.

2/ The US presidential election will be pivotal in determining the country’s domestic trajectory as well as its foreign policy.

3/It should not be a surprise that illiberals (Putin, Orban, Vucic, Netanyahu, etc.) are salivating for a Trump victory and an even more transactional and values-free US posture.

4/This is tightly tied to the war in Ukraine. While Ukrainians continue to resist and fight, it is broadly accepted that no major dynamics will change until after the US election as Moscow knows a Trump presidency would enable a free hand.

5/Sweden’s accession to NATO, following long delays by Turkey and Hungary, will be a positive for the alliance and a reminder of its continued relevance as a values-based security guarantor for members.

6/European Parliament elections in June will impact the EU’s strategic posture and commitment to key values; there are few signs that the body will not shift to the right, with an impact on issues including migration, enlargement, and trans-Atlantic security and cohesion.

7/In the W Balkans, the enlargement perspective will likely remain performative due to a lack of genuine reform interest among regional leaders and, inter alia, the gap between the announced push for enlargement and the will to do the necessary internal reforms among EU members.

8/ Without a change in policy, this will represent a real opportunity lost, and could open the door to increasingly blurred lines between Russkiy Mir and Srpski Svet, in Serbia, Montenegro, BiH and N Macedonia; increasing security threats the West claims to want to prevent.

9/The muted reactions of Western capitals to Serbia’s Dec elections, marked by widely reported election fraud, mean that Vucic’s coalition will continue to see little need to change its illiberal domestic or foreign policy posture, particularly vis-à-vis its neighbors…

10/…so expect more of the same in Kosovo, & even more pressure on the govt in Prishtina.

11/ These dynamics will contribute to further backsliding in BiH. Local elections in October could demonstrate popular disgust at current political options/remixes. However, the Dayton structure will likely deliver more of the same in spite of increasing citizen sentiment …

12/… that both local and foreign actors have an interest in sustaining a dysfunctional status quo. In BiH and regionally, this benefits those interested in the emerging free-for-all for property, mining and HE resources in BiH, Serbia, and other WB countries…

13/…as Western companies with their govts’ support secure and exploit concessions with governments and parties with little transparency, accountability or genuine citizen input.

14/While seemingly grim on many levels none of these trends needs to be inevitable. There are values-based allies in the region. Many have been in evidence on the streets in Serbia. Others include activists fighting against corruption and exploitation in every other country.

15/Yet these allies seem to be increasingly ignored, sidelined or neutralized, to the West’s peril.