2019 has been a strained year for the Western Balkans, marred by scandals, street demonstrations, bilateral tensions and the prevalence of divisive political stances. Against the backdrop of nationalist and authoritarian leaderships, many countries experienced a sharpening political polarization, exemplified by burgeoning protest movements.
The year has been also difficult for the EU enlargement perspectives of the region while calls have been made for an overhaul of the currently brain-dead enlargement strategy. Meantime, governments kept strengthening their grip on state institutions and fuelled the existing regional acrimonies to feed into the ingroup-outgroup dynamics for the sake of domestic consensus.
2020 is expected to be a challenging and worth monitoring year in the Western Balkans. Several elections will take place and the electoral campaigns will define the unfolding of the political and inter-party dynamics on the ground. 2020 could also more decisively determine the future of the EU enlargement process, which could be either revitalized with a new clear vision or, in the worst-case scenario, indefinitely shelved, thus sending an ominous message to the region.