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Popovska, Dorjana. “Snap Elections in Illiberal Democracies: Confirming Trust or Establishing Hegemony? The Case of North Macedonia.” Constitutional Studies 8, no. 1 (2022).


Often, the road toward illiberal democracy is paved with constitutional amendment or replacement. The case of North Macedonia is one example showing us that unfortunately, there are other less detectable yet equally successful ways of “achieving” similar results. Snap elections are a litmus paper revealing constituents’ trust in government. At the right time, they are a tool for elevating majorities and/ or perpetuating power. In illiberal democracies, unlike in liberal democracies, the results of the democratic process are not uncertain, or at least their uncertainty is significantly reduced. The right time is when there is not only expected but almost determined electoral victory. This paper discusses the case of North Macedonia, where between 2006 and 2016 five snap general elections were held. First, I argue that snap elections in illiberal democracies can have several other purposes: (1) to reinforce the populist notion of electoral legitimacy as bases for a narrative justifying violation of constitutional restraints and (2) to perpetuate power, aiming to rearrange the composition of government institutions in lack of a majority necessary to enact constitutional change. Second, I argue that the then-sitting government not only anticipated but also ensured electoral victory through several means, including securing votes through public employment and thereafter voter/ employee intimidation.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.