Capturing Contested States

Structural Mechanisms of Power Reproduction in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro

In: Southeastern Europe
Jelena Džankić European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy,

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This article argues that external state contestation and internal ethnic divisions have resulted in a high degree of state capture in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro, thus providing structural mechanisms for the reproduction of power of political elites. The article focuses on two dominant forms of state capture – party membership in public administration and the privatization process. First, by examining the extent to which party membership influences the composition of public administration, the article explains the solidification of the link between electoral preferences and job security. Second, by looking at the privatisation of state assets, the article shows how state capture facilitated the elites’ accumulation of private wealth. The latter developed into subsidiary networks for financing political parties, offering resources for corruption, clientelism and patronage that are key to the reproduction of political power in captured states. The article concludes by exploring the implications of the link between state contestation and state capture in the Western Balkan states.

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