Informal Practices of Capturing Economic Resources by Political Elites: Exploring Party Patronage in Kosovo and Serbia

Informal Practices of Capturing Economic Resources by Political Elites: Exploring Party Patronage in Kosovo and Serbia

One of the key problems in post-socialist societies is the privatization of public resources by political parties and achieving personal and/or party gain at the expense of public interest. The aim of the research was to identify main actors, resources and mechanisms involved in this process in Serbia and Kosovo. Qualitative research approach included the analysis of relevant literature and data sources, and semi-structured interviews – face to face with representatives of the political and economic elite at the national and local level.

Although there have been institutional and personal changes in the political and economic system in Serbia after 2000, the analysis showed that economic system remained under political domination and power and privilege concentrated within a small number of people. A complex informal system of power and distribution of resources had been set and maintained based on informal, yet quite strict, rules and on hidden, but very functional roles. The analysis showed that relationship between economic and political arenas were mutually dependent in Kosovo*. The key players were the political elite, who are, thanks to unlimited access to public resources, “responsible” for the formation of new economic elite.

Some of the recommendations developed in the first phase of the project have been included in the new Law on Public Enterprises in Serbia, and this is a good example of successfully connecting scientific research with practical policy. Such practices need to be expanded and promoted, in Kosovo as well as the wider region of Southeast Europe.

The second phase of the project is, therefore, directed at expanding research, advancing competences for writing recommendations for developing public policies, and improving visibility and promotion of results. The goal of research is to illustrate the role of independent regulatory bodies in monitoring and preventing party patronage. The research will include a desk analysis of legal and political frameworks pertaining to activities of independent regulatory bodies, as well as interviews with experts.

The SeConS team will share their knowledge on preparing advocacy documents with colleagues from the CRD. Two partner organizations jointly organized presentation of results in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro. This way, the attention of the scientific community and decision makers is directed at a topic which is familiar to all societies in the region. The SeConS team  also prepared video materials, adapted for dissemination via social networks, which sre based on findings and research results from the first phase of the project.