BApol02d (BApol01e) BA/MA Blockkurs zu politischen Entwicklungen in Osteuropa: Political regimes of the Balkans- a comparative analysis

  • Unterricht


    Fakultät Philosophische Fakultät
    Bereich Europastudien und Slavistik
    Code UE-L41.00206
    Sprachen Englisch und/oder Deutsch
    Art der Unterrichtseinheit Blockkurs
    Kursus Master, Bachelor
    Semester SP-2023

    Zeitplan und Räume

    Vorlesungszeiten Freitag , Blockkurs (Frühlingssemester)


    • Vukpalaj Anton


    Political regimes of the Balkans – A comparative analysis



    Semester: Spring 2023


    Course Leader:

    Prof. Anton Vukpalaj (


    Language: English


    Course load: (3 ECTS) 28 teaching hours


    Time & location:
























    The Balkans have undergone a double transition - from communism to post-communism and, in some cases, from war to peace. Some countries have successfully transitioned to democracy and have joined the European Union, while others have struggled to establish stable democratic regimes. This course aims to examine the nature of the regimes in these countries and the factors that have contributed to their varied paths towards democracy. It will provide a comparative analysis of the historical events, political processes, and institutions of the Balkan countries and examine the major challenges facing democracy in the region. In addition, the course will focus on how countries in the Western Balkans that were affected by conflicts in the 1990s have dealt with their past, including issues of state-building, transitional justice, and the impact of the past on current state-society relations. Overall, the course aims to deepen students' understanding of the political processes shaping the Balkans today.


    Expected outcomes


    By the end of the course, students will be able to:

    • Understand the political regimes of the Balkan countries
    • Have a comprehensive understanding of the key historical developments in the politics of
    • Balkan countries over the past three decades
    • Analyze political processes in the region using comparative analysis when studying politics
    • Develop a critical perspective on the advantages and limitations of theories, concepts, and categories from political science when applied to the study of the Balkans
    • Conduct research on the Balkans
    • Compare the politics of different Balkan states using empirical evidence
    • Understand the processes of post-conflict reconstruction, peacebuilding, and reconciliation

    in the region.



    The course will consist of a combination of lectures, student presentations, and interactive discussions. Each class will begin with a lecture, followed by in-class participation and discussion. The course is designed to be a mix of different teaching methods that will engage students and encourage active participation.


    Course Requirements (Assessment)

    The course's final grade will be determined by evaluating the quality of student participation in class discussions, in-class presentations, and a written essay. The essay can be based on the topic of the in-class presentations. The grade will be a reflection of the student's overall performance in the class.


    The weighting of these three elements for the final grade is as follows:


    Participation in class discussions


    In-class presentations


    Final essay (about 3000 words), due no later than four weeks after the Part II of the lecture.



    The grade percentages are as follows:





    90-100 %









    4 or less

    less than 49%, failed


    (*) In-class presentations:


    In-class presentations can be completed individually or as a group of up to two students. If you choose to work in a group, it is important that every member actively participates in the preparation and presentation. Each presentation should not exceed 20 minutes per student. For your in-class presentation, please select a case study, book chapter, paper or propose a topic related to the course (see the course outline for more information). Your topic must be approved by the instructor via email before the lecture.

    In your presentation, you must include an executive summary of the content/issue/problem analyzed, supporting information, and a conclusion or recommended policy/ies, option/s, and justification. In addition, you will need to submit a final version of your in-class presentation in the form of an essay (approx. 3000 words) which includes the following key components: (1) Introduction, (2) Text body which includes facts, different opinions from various authors and sources on the given topic, (3) A concluding discussion of your independent developed line of argument on the topic, (4) A bibliography which includes all sources used.

    The final version of your essay should be submitted no later than five weeks after the second part of the lecture.


    Reading Tips:


    When preparing your in-class presentation, you may find it helpful to review the reading material using the following study questions:

    • What is the main goal or objective of the author in writing this piece?
    • What are the main questions or issues that the author is trying to address?
    • What key concepts does the author focus on? How are these concepts defined?
    • What are the author's conclusions? Are they logical and well-supported by the evidence provided?
    • Do you agree with the author's conclusions? If not, why?
    • Are there any questions or issues that the author does not address or that remain unanswered?


    All work and materials that you submit to the instructor for a grade must be your own.


    Additional Information

    It is expected that students will attend all scheduled classes and thoroughly read the assigned literature beforehand. Additionally, students are expected to actively participate in class discussions and presentations.

    If there are any questions or concerns about this course that are not addressed in the syllabus, please reach out to the instructor via email or in person. The instructor is available to assist you, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to ensure that they understand and fulfill all the course requirements.


    Course Schedule


    17 March

    (09:15-10:45): Introduction and course overview

      • Introduction to the course
      • Introduction to key concepts and theories on political regimes
      • Competitive authoritarian regimes
      • Balkan countries: a brief survey
      • Introduction to comparative analysis of different Balkans political regimes


    (11:00-12:30): The Western Balkans (WB) politics

      • Historical background on WB
      • The dissolution of former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s and the post-communist transition
      • The post-war transition
      • The emergence of hybrid regimes
      • ideology, crises and state capture


    (13:30-15:00): An overview of WB Political Regimes

      • Historical foundations
      • Governance and institutions in WB
      • Yugoslav legacies
      • Discussions


    (15:15-17:00): Majority vs consensual (power sharing) democracies in WB

      • Majoritarian democracy as the conventional form of political systems
      • Theory of majoritarian democracy
      • The consensual (Power-sharing) model of democracy
      • The mixed model



    (09:15-10:45): Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Power-sharing model of democracy

      • Bosnia’s status in the former Yugoslavia
      • Post-communist transition
      • War in Bosnia in the 1990’s
      • The Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995
      • The post-Dayton


    (11:00-12:30): Kosovo’s “mixed” model of democracy

      • The Kosovo war in 1998-1999
      • From a de facto state to the independence in 2008
      • Kosovo-Serbia negotiations
      • The lack of Kosovo’s recognition by 5 EU member states
      • The Kosovo model of power-sharing


    (13:30-15:00): North Macedonia’s power-sharing model of democracy

      • The North Macedonia’s armed conflict in 2001
      • The Ohrid Agreement and constitutional changes in NM
      • The power sharing institutions, demography and governance
      • Power sharing and elections in NM


    (15h15-17h): Comparative analysis of case studies

      • Comparing Bosnia, Northern Macedonia and Kosovo model of power-sharing
      • Lessons (not-) to be learned
      • Conclusive remarks on WB case studies.


    05 May

    (09:15-10:45): Serbia’s majority model of democracy  

      • Serbian nationalism in the 1990’s
      • The post-Milosevic transition
      • Institutions and governance
      • The electoral system and political parties
      •  Serbia between Russia and the West
      • Current situation


    (11:00-12:30): Croatian majority model of democracy

      • Croatian post-Yugoslav transition
      • Croatia’s war for independence
      • Croatia’s political structure
      • Democracy and governance in Croatia
      • Croatia’s EU integration
      • Conclusive remarks on majority models of WB democracies


    (13:30-15:00): In class presentations and discussion


    (15:15-17:00): In class presentation and discussion



    06 May

    (09:15-10:45): State building and democratisation in WB

      • An overview of post conflict state building
      • Security and stabilisation
      • Reflections from Bosnia-Herzegovina
      • Reflections from Kosovo
      • Structural limitations and shortcomings


    (11:00-12:30): Dealing with the past and transitional justice

    • An overview of transitional justice mechanisms
    • Promoting justice in practice
    • TJ as a peacebuilding mechanism in the aftermath of violent conflict
    • TJ as a transition facilitator


    (13:30-15:00): In class presentations and discussion


    (15:15-17:00): Final comparison

      • Discussion of the main arguments of the course
      • Critical analysis with specific comments
      • discussion



    * Compulsory reading: Bieber, F. (2018). Patterns of competitive authoritarianism in the Western Balkans. East European Politics, Vol. 34 (3), pp. 337-354.



    • Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan A. Way (2010). Competitive Authoritarianism. Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Levitsky, Steven, and Daniel Ziblatt (2018). How Democracies Die. New York: Crown.
    • O'Neil, P. H., (2010). Essentials of comparative politics (third edition). New York: Norton.
    • Anderson, C.J. and C. A. Guillory (1997), ‘Political institutions and satisfaction with democracy: a cross-national analysis of consensus and majoritarian systems”, The American Political Science Review 91(1): 66.
    • Zaum, D. (2007). The Sovereignty Paradox. The Norms and Politics of International Statebuilding. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Hayoz, N., Leszek J., Koleva, D. (2011). 20 Years after the Collapse of Communism, Expectations, achievements and disillusions of 1989, Peter Lang, Bern.
    • Ramet S.P. (2010). Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    • Bieber, F. (2011). Building Impossible States? State-Building Strategies and EU Membership in the Western Balkans. Europe-Asia Studies, 63 (10), pp. 1783-1802.
    • Hajrullahu, A., Vukpalaj, A. (2021). Forging Kosovo: Between Dependence, Independence, and Interdependence. Bern: Peter Lang.
    • Vukpalaj, A. (2010). Ex-Yougoslavie, de la guerre a la justice, Paris: Michel Houdiard Editeur.
    • Kasapovic, M. (2005). Bosnia and Herzegovina: Consociational or Liberal Democracy? Croatian Journal of Political Science, Vol. XLII, pp. 3-30.
    • Stojarova V., Emerson P. (2010). Party Politics in the Western Balkans. London: Routledge.
    • Marko, J. (2014). Ethnic Parties and Power Sharing: A Case Study from Bosnia and Herzegovina, IPSA Montreal.
    • Pridham G. “Democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe: A Comparative Perspective” pp. 269-290, in: White, S. Batt, J. and Lewis, P. Developments in Central and East European Politics 3. London, Palgrave, 2003.
    • Cohen, J. L., Lampe, R. J. “Embracing Democracy in the Western Balkans: From Post-Conflict Struggles Towards European Integration”, Woodrow Wilson Centre Press, Washington D.C. 2011.
    • Bechev, D., Constructing South East Europe: The Politics of Balkan Regional Cooperation, London, Palgrave, 2011.

    Die Einschreibung in den Blockkurs ist verbindlich und gilt automatisch als Einschreibung in die Prüfung:

    Die Absolvierung der Prüfung im selben Semester ist aufgrund des externen Dozierenden Voraussetzung für die Einschreibung in den Kurs.


    BA/MA Blockkurs BApol02d gemäss Studienplan. Kann optional durch alle mit BApol02d gekennzeichnete Blockkurse ersetzt werden und kann auch als Option für BApol01e gewählt werden.

    Alle Studierenden (auch Gaststudierende anderer Universitäten) müssen sich immatrikulieren um einen Kurs zu besuchen und eine Prüfung zu schreiben. 

    Studierende, die sich für BENEFRI angemeldet haben, aber noch nicht aktiviert wurden und sich deswegen nicht einschreiben können, bitten wir, bevor Sie uns kontaktieren, zu überprüfen, ob Sie bereits immatrikuliert und aktiv im System sind. Eine Kurseinschreibung ist erst dann möglich, darum bitten wir Sie, sich ERST AB EINER WOCHE VOR EINSCHREIBESCHLUSS bei Problemen in Verbindung mit Ihrer Aktivierung / BENEFRI per E-Mail beim Sekretariat "Fachbereich Politik und Gesellschaft" zu melden.

    Alle Einschreibungen sind nach Ablauf der Ausschreibefrist verbindlich.

    Wir erwarten, dass alle Studierenden mit den Regeln vertraut sind, und in Eigenverantwortung prüfen, dass sie sich in die Unterrichtseinheiten, die ihrem Studienplan entsprechen oder damit vereinbar sind, eingeschrieben haben. Ohne Meldung direkt an das Sekretariat erwarten wir, dass alle Teilnehmenden unter Einhaltung der Frist korrekt in die Unterrichtseinheiten und die entsprechende Prüfung eingeschrieben sind. Ohne Einschreibung werden keine Noten / ECTS eingetragen.

    NUR BEI DEN BLOCKKURSEN GILT DIE EINSCHREIBUNG IN DEN KURS, DA AUSSERHALB DER PRÜFUNGSSESSION, DIREKT ALS EINSCHREIBUNG IN DIE PRÜFUNG. Die Einschreibung in einen Blockkurs oder Kurs mit auswärtigen Dozierenden verpflichtet zum Schreiben der Prüfung im selben Semester, da diese Dozierenden nur bedingt verfügbar sind, hier wird die Prüfung im selben Semester als Voraussetzung für den Besuch vorausgesetzt.

    Soft Skills Ja
    ausserhalb des Bereichs Ja
    BeNeFri Ja
    Mobilität Ja
    UniPop Nein
  • Einzeltermine und Räume

    Einschreibeschluss / Probleme beim Einschreiben / Studierende aus Bern:

    BENEFRI Studierende, die noch nicht in Freiburg immatrikuliert / freigeschaltet sind oder Probleme beim Einschreiben haben, bitten wir erfahrungsgemäss um Geduld. Wenn Sie sich ab einer Woche vor Einschreibeschluss noch nicht Einschreiben können, können Sie sich per E-Mail beim Sekretariat (Fachbereich Politikwissenschaft) melden. 

    Datum Zeit Art der Unterrichtseinheit Ort
    17.03.2023 09:15 - 17:00 Kurs PER 21, Raum D130
    18.03.2023 09:15 - 17:00 Kurs PER 21, Raum D130
    05.05.2023 09:15 - 17:00 Kurs PER 21, Raum D130
    06.05.2023 09:15 - 17:00 Kurs PER 21, Raum D130
  • Leistungskontrolle

    Schriftliche Arbeit und Vortrag - Ausserhalb der Prüfungssession

    Bewertungsmodus Nach Note, Nach bestanden/nicht bestanden
  • Zuordnung
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