The Nature of State Capture in Macedonia and its Effects on the Country's Accession Process in the EU

Liljana Cvetanoska

Despite EU efforts to improve control of corruption during the accession process of the Western Balkans, various forms of state capture remain a serious problem in the region. This paper draws on the theoretical insights of Mungiu-Pippidi and Grzymala-Busse to examine the nature of state capture in Macedonia. By using Schimmelfennig and Sedelmeier's external incentives model it also analyses the consequences of state capture on Macedonia's accession process in the EU. First, the specific domestic factors that characterise the nature of state capture in Macedonia are identified. These include: diminished separation between the state and the ruling party, characterised by strong party loyalty, politicization of all three divisions of power and serious problems with the operability and capacity of relevant institutions to address corruption; and absence of political and economic independence of media actors and weak civil society sector, which (fail to) affect citizens' perceptions and attitudes towards corruption. Consequently, it is argued that Macedonia is a pure particularistic regime characterised by monopoly in power distribution, state ownership by few political elites, unfair and predictable distribution of public goods, and no distinction between the public and private. Second, the paper examines the consequences of state capture on the EU accession process of Macedonia. In an environment of pure particularism, ruling elites have little interest to control grand corruption, which in turn directly affects the conditionality mechanism of the EU. In such a setting the costs of joining the EU and decreasing corruption are too high for domestic rent-seeking elites, which benefit from maintaining the status quo and sustaining their power and control over state institutions. The paper employs documentary analysis and elite interviews with national and European experts on corruption and enlargement.

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