Civil Society Going Political: The Crisis of Democracy and the Rise of Participatory Political Parties in Croatia
This paper debates the crisis of democracy and the importance of civil society in bringing forth new, participatory models of democracy. This is demonstrated in the case of Croatia following the results of the local elections in the spring of 2013 when five newly founded political parties, which shared strong ties to civil society, saw success. Building on the existing literature on the crisis of democracy, the authors argue that the low level of trust in political parties is not sufficient for explaining this phenomenon. Seeking to provide a more comprehensive solution, the authors introduce the factor of motivation by analysing the failures of CSOs in establishing a dialogue with the government, as well as the structural features of CSOs, thereby establishing a link between the macro and micro level of analysis. The paper indicates similarities with other post-socialist countries, allowing for speculation about possible similarities between them.
Dražen Cepić is a research fellow at the International Development Department, University of Birmingham. He received his PhD in social and political sciences from the European University Institute in Florence in 2013. Before joining the University of Birmingham, he was a research fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford and the New Europe College-Institute for Advanced Study in Bucharest
Marko Kovačić works as a researcher at the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb. He is a PhD candidate in public policy at the University of Ljubljana. He holds an MA in Public Policy from the University of Zagreb and an MA in Political Science from Central European University.
1. Would you agree with the claim that the contemporary system of democratic representation is in the state of crisis?
2. Which instruments can be used for achieving Rosanvallon’s idea of counter-democracy? Can it be said that political parties analyzed in this paper managed to reach this achieve?
3. How would you assess similarities and differences of Croatian civil society with CSOs from other countries of Southeastern Europe?
4. Does the situation in other countries regarding trust and mistrust to CSO and political parties resemble the Croatian case?
5. Do you think that across the region local political parties can represent a challenge to mainstream parties? Would you say that CSOs, once transformed into political parties, are left without important instruments of political action?
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