Swift consolidation behind a common (even non-partisan) candidate is the only way to go. The candidate should be elected through a series of runoff contests capable of mobilising an electoral body and repoliticising the disheartened citizens
The erosion of fragile democratic qualities around the region are generally accompanied by the continued entrenchment of autocrats. Important Western actors that were previously accredited with supporting democratic movements seem to be reacting to domestic politics, though most of their efforts fall significantly short of being capable of creating any significant and substantial change. Past (re-)democratisation efforts are hardly on the agenda of Western promoters of democracy. Instead, it seems that prolonging stabilisation continues to be priority. In the past, domestic efforts that lacked external support were insufficient to oust autocratic-minded leaders. Similarly, international actors are unable to prompt domestic changes when acting on their own. International support, coupled with the unifying of the domestic opposition, seems to be the magic formula. And the recent experiences of North Macedonia and Montenegro are telling examples.
International support, coupled with the unifying of the domestic opposition, seems to be the magic formula. And the recent experiences of North Macedonia and Montenegro are telling examples
Furthermore, united opposition fronts were able to record significant victories against authoritarian leaders in the recent local elections in Istanbul and Budapest. The opposition in Hungary continues to implement these manoeuvres in an effort to inflict a final blow on Prime Minister Victor Orban by fielding a consensus candidate, in the form of conservative politician Péter Márki-Zay, who was elected from a pool of opposition candidates.
More than two decades ago, after a few wasted years and electoral cycles, the Serbian opposition succeeded in getting behind a joint name, by backing than candidate Vojislav Koštunica, and overcoming what was a severely uneven playing field. The subsequent period saw improvements in democratic quality and the rapid democratisation of Serbia. However, Serbia’s fragile democratic qualities have been on a downward spiral since 2012 – in a period corresponding with the period of SNS rule. The election boycott of the last parliamentary elections hardly helped the opposition’s cause. Instead, swift consolidation behind a common (even nonpartisan) candidate is the only way to go. A fragmented opposition can hardly garner international support, as it is too costly for international actors to create a leadership vacuum. Instead, the candidate should be elected through a series of runoff contests capable of mobilising an electoral body and re-politicising the disheartened citizens. While Hungary has decided on a conservative candidate to appeal to the undecided voters, Serbia’s opposition still has some consolidating to do. Nevertheless, what the campaign in Hungary illustrates is that the candidate should be acceptable to both left-wing liberals and conservative dissatisfied voters, but also capable of mobilising provincial voters.