What Happens at the Policy Level?
Studies of post-conflict politics and inter-ethnic relations have been predominantly conducted at the aggregate, state level, looking at states as the units of analysis and examining the progress achieved in the state or society as a whole. Such aggregatelevel differences and variations between the two countries have been noticed and examined by many researchers of the region. Some have compared the relative progress of Bosnia and Macedonia (and other Balkan states) in the post-conflict
period to reveal various findings about the roots and causes of ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, about prospects for democracy and ethnic reconciliation, and about the prognosis for EU integration.3 Others have compared the powersharing institutions in Bosnia and Macedonia and reached conclusions concerning their effects and outputs. For example, Bieber has found that Macedonia's powersharing provisions more flexible than the Bosnian, allowing for less conflict and resistance between political elites from different ethnic backgrounds.4
Although useful for understanding the general direction of post-conflict politics and country-specific challenges of inter-ethnic politics, previous studies fail to capture the full depth and variation of political processes across different policy areas in Bosnia and Macedonia. When the analysis is conducted at the policy level, a different picture emerges. Contrary to the more general picture that aggregatelevel analysis suggests, where one state as a whole performs better than the other, the policy level shows variation within each state – on some policies political elites accommodate more easily across ethnic lines than on others. Indeed, while military reform proceeded with little resistance in Bosnia, agreement on police reform was elusive and even delayed the country's signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. Similarly, in Macedonia, while successive decentralisation reforms were accommodated by political elites, the use of minority languages in education has witnessed regular challenges and has been a contentious issue since 2001. This book addresses the policy-level variation within each country and investigates the reasons for greater accommodation in some cases and greater resistance in others.
Situating the analysis at policy level enables one to address the issue of interethnic political elite accommodation from an under-researched perspective. In addition, focusing on elite interaction in various policies within states, as well as between states, allows for a more nuanced understanding of the variation in elite behaviour. Finally, policy-level analysis also reveals the more sensitive and difficult areas for inter-ethnic cooperation after conflict and sheds light on the institutional and political tools that, although effective in inducing accommodation and compromise on some issues, can fail to do so in other instances.
Approaches and Concepts: Institutions and Elites
In the context of power-sharing arrangements, examining political elites and their behaviour in terms of ethnic accommodation and resistance requires closer observations of the relations between political actors and institutions. The
3 Judy Batt, 'Western Balkans', Developments in Central and East European Politics
4 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
4 Florian Bieber, 'Power Sharing after Yugoslavia: Functionality and Dysfunctionality of Power-Sharing Institutions in Post-War Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo', in From Power Sharing to Democracy, ed. Syd Noel (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005). following sections elaborate on institutionalism and outline the assumptions about actors' behaviour and institutions' impact that underlie the analysis in this book.