European Western Balkans

V-Dem Report 2024: Montenegro and North Macedonia enter a category of electoral democracies

ODIHR observers visit a polling station in Skopje during North Macedonia's presidential election, 21 April 2019; Photo: OSCE

GOTHENBURG – The annual Democracy Report 2024 published today by the Swedish V-Dem Institute shows that Montenegro and North Macedonia are “electoral democracies”, which is one category higher compared to last year. Kosovo is also in this category, while Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina remain in the “grey zone” between democracies and autocracies. Serbia has been considered an “electoral autocracy” by V-Dem since 2014.

V-Dem distinguishes four types of regimes: liberal democracy, electoral democracy, electoral autocracy, and closed autocracy. Some countries are also in the “democratic grey zone” or “autocratic grey zone”.

“By our best estimate… the world is almost evenly divided between 91 democracies (liberal and electoral) and 88 autocracies (electoral and closed) at the end of 2023”, the Report states.

In this year’s Report, Montenegro became an “electoral democracy” for the first time, while North Macedonia returned to this category after dropping to the “grey zone” last year. Kosovo has been in this category since 2014.

“Slovenia is the only country in this region that deteriorated on regime type in 2023, from liberal to electoral democracy, while North Macedonia and Montenegro improved from “grey zone” electoral democracy to non-ambiguous electoral democracy status”, V-Dem Report emphasizes.

It adds that Montenegro’s trajectory was somewhat troubled in 2021-2022 by the President’s alleged violations of the constitution and a conflict about responsibilities, but that the 2023 elections were largely free and fair.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, on the other hand, have remained in the “democratic grey zone”, which means that V-Dem does not consider their democracy scores high enough for them to be categorized in the “electoral democracies”.

Serbia has been ranked as an “electoral autocracy” since 2014. Among Eastern European countries, V-Dem considers Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia to be in this category as well.

“The level of democracy enjoyed by the average person in Eastern Europe has gradually declined to levels last recorded in 1990, before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Belarus and Russia are two prominent examples of post-Soviet consolidation of autocracy in the region and their large populations weigh down the average. Hungary and Serbia are also driving this trend in recent years, as well as Croatia and Romania”, the Report states.

V-Dem also ranks countries based on their score on the Liberal Democracy Index (between 0 and 1).

Denmark is a country with the highest Liberal Democracy Index of 0.88 in the latest report. The countries with the lowest score are North Korea and Eritrea, with 0.01.

Kosovo has scored 0.49 (62nd place out of 179 countries ranked) on the Liberal Democracy Index and it remains the highest-ranked country in the Western Balkans. Montenegro has 0.47 (67th place), followed by Albania at 0.4 (82nd place) and North Macedonia at 0.36 (89th place).

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a score of 0.35 (92nd place) on the Liberal Democracy Index, while Serbia has 0.25 (107th place).

V-Dem 2024 Report assesses that the level of democracy enjoyed by the average person worldwide in 2023 is down to levels last seen in 1985 – almost 40 years ago.

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