Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Special Issue

Populism and Anti-Establishment Politics in Kosovo: A Case Study of Lëvizja Vetëvendosje

  • Bilge Yabanci
Few studies have systematically examined the rising political and social unrest in the Balkans. This paper investigates the local dynamics and consequences of widespread anti-establishment discontent in Kosovo through the analytical framework of populism. By focusing on the case of Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (LVV), the paper sets out to consider two related questions: the unique populist style of the LVV and the complex reasons behind its electoral breakthrough and continuing support among various groups. Based on a qualitative documentary analysis of the party programme, manifesto, party publications, speeches of the leadership and interviews, the paper finds that the LVV successfully melds a populist political style, leftist/social democratic agenda and contentious politics as a means to disperse its message. The second part of the article offers three arguments to explain its appeal: structural factors (electoral availability and party system), societal dynamics (political and economic dissatisfaction) and the agency of the LVV (internal organisation, cohesion and leadership). The article contributes to the thriving literature on populism through a novel empirical scope, and to the literature on Southeast Europe through a focus on local agency, voter preferences and party system.