Assessments of the quality of democracy focus on deviations from the rule of law and decreasing levels of political participation, but do not adequately explore the mechanisms through which the quality of democracy decreases. Populism is such a mechanism, used by populist leaders, after they ascent to power. Populism is combined with clientelism and corruption to form means of political domination in democratic regimes which are backpedalling or backsliding. Examples are three recently consolidated democratic regimes of Western Balkans. The governments of Aleksandar Vucic in Serbia, Nikola Gruevski in FYR Macedonia and Milo Djukanovic in Montenegro purposefully use populism, clientelism and corruption. Although not present in all backsliding democracies, populism, clientelism and corruption are associated with backsliding from recently consolidated democracies and deterioration of the quality of democracy.

Τhe paper written by Dr Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos is available here.