Although seventeen years have elapsed since NATO’s military intervention, policy makers should not assume that all conflicts in the Western Balkans have been assigned to history. Disputes continue to fester over statehood, territory, and political authority, compounded by the uncertainties of international integration. The promise of EU and NATO membership has been the key incentive to democratize each state and promote inter-ethnic co-existence. Without that prospect reforms falter and local disputes are revived. In the wake of the EU’s existential crisis and preoccupation with “Brexit,” enlargement is not high on the Union’s agenda. It seems unlikely that any country can be considered for accession for at least a decade. Such receding opportunities for membership will undermine Balkan commitments to the rule of law and can result in democratic reversals.
Following the US elections, the Brexit vote, and the rise of non-conventional parties throughout Europe, the populist wave is sweeping both sides of the Atlantic. Populism is a revolutionary movement, but unlike its 20th century predecessors, such as communism or fascism, it eschews violent rebellion and favors a democratic replacement of incumbent governments. Traditional and mainstream political parties need to learn lessons from the rise of populism rather than simply condemning the phenomenon and bemoaning their election losses. Ultimately, populism can contribute to democratic development by exposing the fissures, frustrations, and failures in Western societies, by involving new players in the political process, by reconnecting politicians with the populace, and by energizing the electorate to view politics as the responsibility of every citizen. In its essence, populism
America is entering an unpredictable and potentially volatile new era. After his inauguration as US President on January 20, Donald Trump will face enormous domestic and foreign policy challenges following an election that has sharply divided the population and disturbed many of America’s allies. The state that stands to gain the most from a Donald Trump presidency is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But reality may not be all it appears, as political office does not always mirror election campaigns and actual policies may not reflect pledges trumpeted at rallies. During the long election campaign Trump periodically praised President Vladimir Putin as a great leader, he described NATO as obsolete, and complained about the Allies, while some of his foreign policy advisors have maintained close business and personal links