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A Question of Resilience: Challenges for Bottom-Up Democratisation in Bosnia and Herzegovina


  • Anne-Kathrin Schmidt

Summary, in English

Two decades after emerging from war and after many years of delay, Bosnia and Herzegovina at last submitted an EU membership application in 2016. There is little doubt, however, that candidate status and accession are still a long way off. Reform process is slow, and the country’s state of democracy is undermined by a variety of factors. To evaluate perspectives for the future, this paper investigates what challenges the process of bottom-up democratisation is facing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the analysis, the current political and socio-economic conditions are compared to key findings from the literature on democratisation theories. By complementing these insights with the data gathered in several interviews conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, previous assumptions are confirmed and illustrated by numerous examples. The research results reveal that the country’s conditions are unfavourable towards democratisation, with deficiencies being particularly strong in the areas of political culture, functioning of the government, and political participation. However, they also illustrate how interlinked many of the country’s problems are, and that the most pressing ones can be attributed to the absence of a strong civil society. This paper highlights the importance of a vigorous civil society for a thriving democracy, pointing to a possible remedy for the flaws in the Bosnian system.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Social Sciences


  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • democratisation
  • civil society
  • political participation
  • Balkans
  • European Studies


  • Sanimir Resic (Associate Professor)