The Annual Report on the State of Transparency of Political Parties in the Western Balkans for 2021

The Annual Report on the State of Transparency of Political Parties in the Western Balkans for 2021
Starting from 2019, WFD’s Western Balkans regional office has been working on developing a comprehensive index of transparency of political parties. Together with a group of regional experts, WFD has continued its work in the course of 2020 in order to develop the Political Party Transparency Index (PPTI). The index consists of 67 individual indicators which are placed in three connected pillars: Internal party democracy (IPD), financial transparency and public outreach. During 2021, the PPTI was applied for the first time in partnership with 23 political parties from the Western Balkan (WB) region.
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24 October 2022

The initial results from the PPTI measurement for 2021 confirm the assumption that there is a strong pattern of similarities between the political parties in the Western Balkans. Overall, WB political parties can be broadly summarised as less democratic than their peers in EU member states and in the U.K., nurturing rather strong autocratic practices stemming from the leadership, containing semi-authoritarian provisions in their party statutes which in turn potentially open the door for cronyism, especially in selecting candidates for the parliaments. Political parties in WB tend to be mass parties with many members and activists, with a less ideological and more catch-all approach. Apart from several parties which were sanctioned for financial misdemeanours, the rest conform to the financial requirements of their respective national legal frameworks.

Looking solely at our PPTI research process, where 23 political parties from the region participated, the average score for all 23 parties is 57.9 per cent. This score confirms our assumption that there is still a lot of room for improvement in all three PPTI pillars. There is no clear pattern when assessing the overall score of political parties country to country. Essentially, we could not track a country that has a distinctively better party performance than other countries. However, in each of the WB countries we could distinguish certain parties that outperform the others by relatively substantial margins (at least in some pillars) nationally and/or cross-country. It means that the level of party development in all three pillars is to a greater extent related to the individual political party performance rather than to the specific features of a given country (such as political culture, advancement in the EU accession process, democratic development, etc).