Illiberalism, revolution and the 2016 Macedonian elections
The effects of social movements on electoral accountability
To what extent are social movements capable of steering voters’ choices in illiberal societies? This paper departs from a corruption-based conception of illiberalism, whereby ‘the misuse of public office for private gain’ in the shape of bribery, nepotism, clientelism and misuse of public party funding, presents itself as one of the foremost components of illiberal rule. Through the empirical exploration of Macedonia’s 2016 Colourful Revolution, this paper aims to examine the potential of Anti-Corruption Movements (ACMs) in enhancing the electoral punishment of illiberal elites. Drawing from original survey data and a set of semi-structured interviews with representatives of the Colourful Revolution and members of the Macedonian civil society, this paper aims at shedding light upon the effects of ACMs on electoral behaviour and, ultimately, on the political potential of ACMs in the reversal of a country’s illiberal course. The study finds strong indicators pointing to the Colourful Revolution’s encouraging role in stoking increasingly negative perceptions towards Macedonia’s illiberal government ahead of the 2016 election, but primarily among voters that had not supported the main government party in the previous election.
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