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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves a polling station in Budapest after voting on April 3. Orban, a right-wing nationalist, was reelected. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)

When Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, a wide variety of commentators believed there was at least one silver lining in this catastrophic cloud. Vladimir Putin’s assault on the liberal order, they hoped, would expose and delegitimize the illiberal, populist forces that have been surging for years. One speculated that the war in Ukraine could end the age of populism. Another, the scholar Francis Fukuyama, saw it as an opportunity for people to finally reject right-wing nationalism. Alas, six weeks into this conflict, such notions look like wishful thinking.

In Europe, two pivotal elections — in Hungary and France — tell the tale.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbia finally held its parliamentary and local elections on June 21 — they were supposed to take place on April 26 but were postponed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. After convincingly winning the 2016 legislative and 2017 presidential elections, President Aleksander Vučić’s SNS party scored an even more impressive victory with more than 63 percent of the votes. This was one of Europe’s biggest landslides, with a 53-point difference with the party that came in second, its coalition partner SPS.

With the opposition boycotting the elections, the only other list to make it into parliament is the right-wing Patriotic Alliance.…  Seguir leyendo »

Presidential candidate and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, center, celebrates his victory on Sunday, in Belgrade, Serbia. Vucic claimed nearly 55 percent of the vote, above the 50 percent threshold required to win in the first round. (Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Serbians chose a new president — electing Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic with an estimated 54.9 percent majority.

Why would Serbia’s prime minister shift gears to seek the more ceremonial position of president of the Republic of Serbia? The move reflects an ongoing effort to solidify the position of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). It may also be a sign of Serbia’s turn toward an “illiberal” democracy — a political system marked by free and fair elections, but where rule of law, separation of powers, media freedom and other types of liberties are undermined.

In an article published before the 2016 Serbian parliamentary elections, the third in just four years, we wrote that Prime Minister Vucic called for new elections in an attempt to extend his mandate until 2020, but also boost the SNS performance in the concurrent local elections.…  Seguir leyendo »

Another war is brewing in the Balkans. Recently, Serbia’s voters elected a new president. Ultranationalist Tomislav Nikolic narrowly defeated the liberal, pro-European Union incumbent, Boris Tadic. Mr. Nikolic’s victory means the Balkans may be plunged into ethnic violence again.

Mr. Nikolic won on his appeal as a crusading populist and hard-line Serbian nationalist. He campaigned against the rampant corruption and economic mismanagement that characterized Mr. Tadic’s government. Serbia faces an economic and social crisis. It is plagued by massive high unemployment, stagnating growth, soaring debt and rising poverty. Mr. Nikolic vowed to tackle the country’s problems and impose honest government. In particular, he has pledged to stand up to Serbia’s venal ruling class - a promise that struck a chord with many Serbs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbia elige mañana entre las cadenas del pasado y la esperanza del futuro. Nadie puede predecir, por extraño que parezca, cuál será su decisión. Concurren varios partidos pero sólo existen dos opciones. Una les ofrece la lucha numantina por un imposible sin más incentivos que preservar el orgullo herido y transmitírselo a nuevas generaciones. La otra les plantea la aceptación de la realidad como un acto de liberación que cierre definitivamente, con olvido e ilusión, la herida de la historia que ha mantenido postrada a Serbia como una sociedad enferma, en permanente sufrimiento por el agravio hecho mito, por el victimismo convertido en cultura nacional.…  Seguir leyendo »