in Politics and Gender (2023), First View
The level of women’s parliamentary representation often increases after armed conflict, but do voters in postwar societies actually prefer female electoral candidates? We answer this question by analyzing a unique data set containing information on nearly 7,000 candidates running in three elections with preferential voting in postwar Croatia. Our analysis demonstrates that voters’ gender bias is conditional on the local electorate’s ideology and exposure to war violence, with voters of right-wing parties and voters in areas more affected by war violence being more biased against female candidates. These effects of ideology and exposure to war violence also exhibit a strong interactive relationship, suggesting that bias against women is strongest among right-wing voters in areas exposed to war violence and reversed among left-wing voters in areas exposed to war violence. Our findings highlight the need to better understand the relationship between gender, ideology, and violence in postconflict societies.
in Ethnopolitics (2023), 22(1), 22-42
In spite of growing interest in democratization and electoral competition after ethnic conflict, we know little about the impact of ethnic violence on voter choice in post-conflict societies. This article uses an original dataset of local-level electoral results, communities’ exposure to war violence, and candidates’ ethnicity derived from names in contemporary Croatia to uncover the relationship between local post-conflict ethnic distribution, ethnic violence, and the electorate’s ethnic bias. Our analysis points to the presence of ethnic bias that is determined by local interethnic balance and exposure to war violence – particularly for communities populated by the Serb minority.
in Regional and Federal Studies (2022)
The 2021 county elections in Croatia were the perfect example of political change amidst continuity. Relatively new parties and independent candidates made significant inroads against the dominant players of the center-right and the center-left, most notably in the capital city of Zagreb, where a novel leftist political platform won the elections conclusively. The rise of new and credible alternatives resulted in increased fragmentation of the county assemblies and likely more unstable regional governments in the near future. On the other hand, the party that has dominated Croatian politics since independence, Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), continued that dominance on the county-level by winning 15 out of 21 offices of county prefects. More important, the determinants of electoral support for the principal political blocs have remained unchanged from the pattern observed in all national elections since the end of Croatia’s War of Independence more than two and a half decades ago.
in Nationalities Papers (2022)
The last Prime Minister of Yugoslavia Ante Marković was considered by many within the country and in the international community to be Yugoslavia’s last chance for a peaceful transition toward democracy and capitalism. In spite of his popularity, the Reformist party he created failed decisively in the first democratic elections of 1990. We expose the reasons for this failure by analyzing electoral, economic, and sociodemographic data on the level of more than two hundred Yugoslav municipalities where the Reformists put forward their candidates. Our analysis shows that the party’s failure had little to do with the voters’ exposure to the effects of the free market reforms undertaken by Marković’s federal government during this period. Instead, the Reformists’ results were largely determined by the communities’ ethnic makeup and interethnic balance. The Reformists suffered at the hands of a strong negative campaign by the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević, and they were squeezed out by the ethnically based parties that benefited from voters behaving strategically in the electoral marketplace dominated by questions of nationalism. The analysis presented here offers important lessons for our understanding of Yugoslavia’s breakup, post-communist transitions in general, and electoral politics in societies on the verge of ethnic conflict.
in Problems of Post-Communism (2022)
Using survey and social network evidence from Southeast Europe, we advance the understanding of conspiracy theories and politics related to the coronavirus pandemic in three ways: (1) we show that beliefs in coronavirus conspiracy theories are related to ideological support for a nationalist vision of society and socialist vision of the economy; (2) we also show that both conspiracy believers and nonbelievers are living in bubbles of the like-minded; and (3) we use the tools of natural language processing to elucidate the unambiguous differences in the discourse related to the coronavirus used by conspiracy believers and nonbelievers.
in Europe-Asia Studies (2022), 74(4), 569-597
We studied prewar public discourse by analysing the origin, content and sentiment of more than 4,000 letters written by people from all walks of life and published in the Belgrade broadsheet Politika loyal to the regime of Slobodan Milošević during the three years directly preceding the Yugoslav wars. Our analysis combined lexicon-based tools of automated topic and sentiment analysis with data on the sociodemographic characteristics of the letter writers and their localities. The results of our analysis show the importance of the politicisation of a history of violence in shaping public discourse in the run-up to war.
in East European Politics (2022), 38(2), 188-207
Do voters in postwar societies punish corrupt politicians? Or are their electoral preferences distorted by their own or the candidates’ war pasts? We answer these questions by analysing the results of an experiment embedded in a survey of over seven thousand respondents from the countries of Southeast Europe that experienced armed conflict since the 1990s. Our findings show that voters in this region punish corruption harshly, yet are more likely to ignore it for politicians with a military service record. This tendency is, however, conditioned by voters’ partisanship and sense of war grievance.
in Government and Opposition (2022), 57(1), 148-170
How do politicians in post-war societies talk about the past war? How do they discursively represent vulnerable social groups created by the conflict? Does the nature of this representation depend on the politicians’ ideology or their record of combat service? We answer these questions by pairing natural language processing tools and a large corpus of parliamentary debates with an extensive data set of biographical information including detailed records of war service for all members of parliament during two recent terms in Croatia. We demonstrate not only that veteran politicians talk about war differently from their non-veteran counterparts, but also that the sentiment of war-related political discourse is highly dependent on the speaker’s exposure to combat and ideological orientation. These results improve our understanding of the representational role played by combat veterans, as well as of the link between descriptive and substantive representation of vulnerable groups in post-war societies.
in Party Politics (2022), 28(6), 1094-1108
Over the past four decades, there has been a proliferation of interest in the causes, consequences, and dynamics of contestation over collective memories across a variety of fields. Unfortunately, collective memories—particularly those of traumatic experiences of violence such as wars and revolutions—have been largely absent from party politics research. Using data collected in an expert survey on the policy positions and ideological orientations of all relevant political parties, as well as an extensive survey of more than ten thousand voters in the six post-conflict countries of Southeast Europe, we demonstrate that collective memories of war are not only subjects of historiographical contestation but are also significant sources of ideological and policy differentiation among political parties, as well as one of the strongest determinants of voter choice. Our analysis shows that collective memories are politically contested and that party politics research would benefit from taking them seriously.
in Communist and Post-Communist Studies (2021), 54(4), 197214
Does the public perception of governments’ coronavirus pandemic responses actually make a difference to their electoral fortunes? In this research note, we answer that question by presenting the preliminary results of a survey of more than 3,000 voters in Croatia and Serbia conducted on a dedicated mobile app and web platform directly preceding parliamentary elections that took place in these two countries during the summer of 2020. This survey was part of our larger project tracking political competition, public discourse, and conspiracy theories in Southeast Europe during the coronavirus pandemic. The preliminary findings presented in this research note demonstrate Croatian and Serbian voters were rationally retrospective and rewarded parties in power based on evaluations of their crisis management performance. We also find evidence of voters who have personally witnessed the health consequences of the coronavirus being more likely to support the parties in power. We believe this is evidence of the coronavirus pandemic increasing affected citizens’ expectations of and trust in national governments where those governments respond strongly to the pandemic’s first wave, as was the case in both Croatia and Serbia.
in Political Research Quarterly (2021)
Electoral competition in postwar societies is often dominated by war veterans. The question whether voters actually reward candidates’ records of war service, however, remains open. We answer it using a unique dataset with detailed information on the records of combat service of nearly four thousand candidates in two cycles of parliamentary elections held under proportional representation rules with preferential voting in Croatia. Our analysis shows war veterans’ electoral performance to be conditional on the voters’ communities’ exposure to war violence: combat veterans receive a sizeable electoral bonus in areas whose populations were more exposed to war violence, but are penalized in areas whose populations avoided destruction. This divergence is particularly pronounced for candidates of nationalist rightwing parties, demonstrating the importance of the interaction between lived war experiences and political ideology in postwar societies.
in Democratization (2021), 28(8), 1423-1441
How do voters in consolidating democracies see electoral integrity? How does election affect the change in perception of electoral integrity among these voters? What role does winning play in seeing an election as free and fair? Building on the theory of the winner-loser gap, we answer these questions using original two-wave panel surveys we conducted before and after three parliamentary elections in Southeast Europe in 2018 and 2020. The article focuses on changes of perception of electoral integrity as a function of satisfaction with the electoral results in contexts where the quality of elections has always been at the centre of political conflict. We specifically explore the socialization effect of elections in environments with notoriously low trust in political institutions and high electoral stakes. The article goes beyond the “sore loser” hypothesis and examines voters’ both political preferences and personal characteristics potentially responsible for the change in perception of electoral integrity over the course of electoral cycle.
in Public Opinion Quarterly (2021), 85(3), 808-835
Efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis were characterized by a difficult trade-off: the stringency of the lockdowns decreased the spread of the virus, but amplified the damage to the economy. In this study, we analyze public attitudes toward this trade-off on the basis of a survey and survey-embedded experiment of more than seven thousand respondents from Southeast Europe, collected in April and May 2020. The results show that public opinion generally favored saving lives even at a steep economic cost. However, the willingness to trade lives for the economy was greater when the heterogeneous health and economic consequences of lockdown policies for the young and the elderly were emphasized. Free market views also make people more acceptant of higher casualties, as do fears that the instituted measures will lead to a permanent expansion of government control over society.
in International Review for the Sociology of Sport (2020), 55(8), 1094-1115
Where do politically activist football supporters come from? What are the social conditions under which they are successfully recruited and mobilised? This article answers those questions by analysing a unique dataset of more than 43,000 members of Our Hajduk – the association of supporters of the Croatian club Hajduk Split – as well as a host of data on the communities they live in. The analysis shows that Our Hajduk thrives in exactly the same areas where most other social, civil and political organisations thrive: among the more educated and more socioeconomically successful. Most importantly, the analysis shows that the pattern of Our Hajduk membership closely follows the patterns of political affiliation and participation in Croatia’s electoral arena and is guided by the opposition to political players who have dominated Croatian football and turned it into a social field marked by corruption and mismanagement.
in Comparative European Politics (2020), 18(3), 437-459
We expose the way the market evaluates internal political risk and instability in democratic polities by analysing the determinants of sovereign spreads of EU member states over the course of the past two decades. Our analysis builds on the “democratic advantage” argument which suggests democracies enjoy preferential treatment on the international market of sovereign debt because of their better ability to make credible commitments. We suggest that, when it comes to the market’s evaluation of internal political instability and risk in democratic polities, there actually exists a “consolidated democracy advantage”. In times of political instability, older and more consolidated democracies pay less of a premium on their debt than their younger and less consolidated counterparts. In other words, the market indeed views the commitment of consolidated democracies with long track records of democratic competition and survival as something qualitatively diferent than the commitment of new democracies with short track records.
in Anali Hrvatskog politološkog društva: časopis za politologiju (2019), 15(1), 77-101
Wars are extreme events with profound social consequences. Political science, however, has a limited grasp of their impact on the nature and content of political competition which follows in their wake. That is partly the case due to a lack of conceptual clarity when it comes to capturing the effects of war with reliable data. This article systematises and evaluates the attempts at modelling the consequences of war in political science research which relies on quantitative methods. Our discussion is organised around three levels of analysis: individual level of voters, institutional level of political parties, and the aggregate level of communities. We devote particular attention to modelling the legacies of the most recent wars in Southeast Europe, and we offer our view of which efforts have the best potential to help set the foundations of a promising research programme.
in East European Politics (2018), 34(2), 173-193
This study exposes post-war voters’ fiscal liberalism using individual level and aggregate-level data covering a decade and a half of local electoral competition in post-war Croatia. Aggregate-level analysis shows Croatian voters’ fiscal liberalism to be conditional on their communities’ exposure to war violence: greater exposure to violence leads to greater support for fiscally expansionist incumbents. Individual-level analysis, on the other hand, shows post-war voters’ fiscal liberalism as rooted in their different levels of war-related trauma: more feelings of war-related trauma lead to greater economic expectations from the government. Our analysis also shows that voters’ war-conditioned preferences for fiscally expansionist incumbents show little sign of abating over time – a testament to the challenge presented by post-war recovery, and to the impact war exerts on political life long after the bloodshed has ended.
in Public Choice (2017), 171(1-2), 223-241
Instead of alleviating fiscal inequalities, intergovernmental grants are often used to fulfill the grantors’ political goals. This study uses a unique panel dataset on the level of more than 500 Croatian municipalities over a twelve-year period to uncover to which extent grant distribution is biased due to grantors’ electoral concerns. Instead of the default fixed effects approach to model panel data, we apply a novel within-between specification aimed at uncovering the contextual source of variation, focusing on the effects of electoral concerns on grant allocation within and between municipalities. We find evidence of a substantial political bias in grant allocation both within and between municipalities, particularly when it comes to local-level electoral concerns. The paper offers researchers a new perspective when tackling the issue of politically-biased grant allocation using panel data, particularly in cases where they wish to uncover the simultaneous impact of time-variant and time-invariant factors, or when they cannot apply a quasi-experimental approach due to specific circumstances of the given institutional context.
in Croatian International Relations Review (2017), 23(79), 5-39
Apart from relations with its neighbours, Croatia’s relations with the United Kingdom (UK) were undoubtedly its greatest international challenge since it won its independence in the early 1990s. Relations between the two countries during this period were frequently strained partly due to Zagreb’s democratic shortcomings, but partly also due to competing visions of post-Cold War Southeast Europe and due to long-lasting biases rooted in Croatia’s and Britain’s conflicting policies during Yugoslavia’s breakup and wars. Croatia’s accession to the EU in 2013 offered an opportunity for the two countries to leave the burdens of their past behind, since Zagreb and London had similar preferences on a number of crucial EU policy fronts. However, Brexit changed everything. Croatia’s future relations with the UK are likely to be determined by the nature of Brexit negotiations and the evolution of British policy toward the pace and direction of EU integration.
in Europe-Asia Studies (2016), 68(5), 803-825
This article sheds light on the popular sources of opposition to the extension of gay rights in Eastern Europe by analysing the results of the 2013 Croatian referendum on the constitutional definition of marriage—the first referendum of this kind in Europe. Contrary to popular interpretations, our aggregate-level analysis reveals that the referendum results primarily reflected the pattern of support for the two principal electoral blocs, rather than communities’ traditionalist characteristics or grievances stemming from economic adversity. The article thereby stresses the importance of embedding the issue of contention over gay rights in Eastern Europe into the context of conventional political competition.
in Electoral Studies (2016), 42
In spite of a rapidly expanding literature on democratization, elections, and conflict, we lack systematic understanding of what determines electoral results in post-conflict societies. This article offers a novel initiative in revealing electoral patterns in states recuperating from painful experiences of war by analyzing data from more than 500 Croatian municipalities during five post-war electoral cycles. While the findings suggest voters do respond to parties' economic policies, the underlying pattern of electoral support demonstrates that competition is heavily constrained by the legacy of conflict, with the communities more exposed to the violence being more likely to vote for the principal party of the center-right which led the country into independence and throughout the war. This tendency exhibits a remarkable level of stability over time, which suggests conflict dynamics can become firmly embedded in post-conflict democratic electoral competition e even in societies that are not ethnically diverse.
in Goldberg, Jeffrey (Ed.) Obama: Vanjskopolitička doktrina (2016)
in Southeastern Europe (2016), 40
in European Union Politics (2015), 16(4), 577-600
Studies of popular attitudes toward European integration have paid limited attention to the historical roots of voters’ security preferences. Using an original municipality-level data set, we test whether the pattern of voting in Croatia’s 2012 referendum on European Union accession was affected by the legacy of the country’s 1991–1995 war for independence or rather by economic factors. While finding evidence for the impact of the communities’ level of prosperity and structure of economy, our analysis more notably demonstrates that the intensity of the communities’ experience of war had a positive effect on their level of support for European Union membership. This effect also had a strong interactive relationship with the communities’ political allegiances, highlighting the importance not only of historically rooted security issues but also of political actors who make those issues electorally salient.
in Bieber, Florian (Ed.) Debating the End of Yugoslavia (2014)
in Diplomacy & Statecraft (2014), 25(2), 392-394
in Journal of Contemporary History (2014), 49(2), 468-469
in East European Politics & Societies (2013), 27(3), 545-563
Could the Western foreign policy makers have done anything to prevent the violence accompanying the breakup of Yugoslavia? The answer to that question largely depends on their level of awareness of what was happening in the South Slavic federation in the run-up to war. This article analyzes a string of newly declassified documents of the British Foreign Office related to the February 1991 visit of a high-level British political delegation to Yugoslavia, together with interviews with some of the meetings’ protagonists. These declassified documents and interviews offer a unique snapshot in the development of the Yugoslav crisis and Britain’s policy in the region. They give us a clear picture of the goals and strategies of the principal Yugoslav players and show us what the West knew about the true nature of the Yugoslav crisis and when. The article’s conclusions are clear. Yugoslavia’s breakup and impending violence did not require great foresight. Their cause was known well in advance because it was preannounced— it was the plan of the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milošević to impose a centralized Yugoslavia upon the other republics or, if that failed, to use force to create a Greater Serbia on Yugoslavia’s ruins. Crucially, British policy at the time did nothing to dissuade Milošević from his plan and likely contributed to his confidence in using violence to pursue the creation of a new and enlarged Serbian state.
in H-Diplo (2013), 14(20),
in Casopis za Suvremenu Povijest (2013), 44(3), 747-754
Article for general public (2012)
in RUSI Journal (2012), 157(1), 70-77
More than twenty years on, the collapse of Yugoslavia still offers salutary lessons on crisis-management and intervention – activities the international community will find no less essential now than in 1991. Drawing on new evidence, this article shows how Western leaders had prescient intelligence on the political currents in Yugoslavia, and yet followed a knee-jerk policy counter to them. The stubborn preference for stability and the familiar at a time of global systemic uncertainty ultimately bore the terrible consequences of Vukovar, Sarajevo and Srebrenica.
in Nye, Joseph S. (Ed.) Budućnost moći (2012)
in Clinton, Bill (Ed.) Natrag na posao - Zašto trebamo pametnu državu za snažnu ekonomiju (2012)
in Rudolf, Davorin (Ed.) Nastanak suvremene države Hrvatske i dvadeseta obljetnica njezina utemeljenja (2012)
Book published by Yale University Press (2011)
in East European Politics & Societies (2010), 24(2), 294-309316-320
in Europe-Asia Studies (2010), 62(5), 873-875
in Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies (2010), 12(2),
in International Affairs (2010), 86(2), 555-556
in East European Politics & Societies (2009), 23(1), 86-104
This article examines the arguably most interesting pieces of evidence used during the trial of Slobodan Milošević at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia—more than two hundred recordings of intercepted conversations that took place in 1991 and 1992 between Milošević, Radovan Karadžić, Dobrica Ćosić, and various other protagonists on the Serbian side of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Analysis of the intercepts presented in this article makes several important contributions to the interpretation of events in former Yugoslavia during that period. First, it identifies the ideological foundations of Milošević-led Serbian war campaigns in the political influence of Dobrica Ćosić and his platform of “unification of Serbs.” Second, it contributes to the vigorous debate regarding the possible deal between Milošević and the Croatian president Franjo Tuđman for the division of BiH. It confirms that negotiations took place, but that Milošević and his associates had no intention of respecting any agreement and wanted the whole of BiH until at least late 1991. Third, it provides indications that Milošević held the position of the de facto commander-in-chief in the operations of the Yugoslav People's Army in Croatia and BiH. And fourth, it establishes that the two institutions of force Milošević had direct legal control over—Serbia's State Security Service and Ministry of Interior—were his principal means of control over Croatian and Bosnian Serbs and instruments in the aggression against BiH even after its international recognition.
in Matland, Richard; Montgomery, Kathleen (Eds.) Women’s Access to Political Power in Post-Communist Europe (2003)