The transformation of syriza from a minor party struggling to enter parliament into a major governing party within a short period of time, its rule in the context of an economic crisis, and its resilience following four and a half years of governance make a very interesting story. syriza has been the only radical left populist party that has governed an EU country in recent times. This introductory article accounts for the factors that facilitated syriza’s catapulting to power, while the special issue assesses some of the main issues that the syriza-led government dealt with from 2015 to 2019. With the danger of oversimplifying a more complex picture, the special issue editors argue that syriza emerged as a serious contender to power owing to two factors: i) the errors in the economic policies of the governments that ruled during the 2010–2014 period, and ii) its successful exploitation of the opportunity to capitalize on the dynamics of a grassroots protest movement (the ‘Aganaktismenoi’) through the adoption of the movement’s populist discourses. The introduction then explicates the consolidation of syriza in the Greek political system and concludes with a brief presentation of the structure of the special issue.
This article analyses and develops the rationale behind the foreign policy of the syriza-led government towards the Western Balkans. It challenges the prevalent view in the academic literature that there was continuity between policies of the syriza government and its predecessors. By analysing the track record of Greek foreign policy towards the region from 2009 to 2019, it argues that from mid-2016 onwards syriza implemented a major policy shift and adopted a policy of retrenchment. This change was a response to the country’s diminished economic and diplomatic power and influence in the region, as well as a reaction to the widening gap between Greek and Turkish capabilities. The adjustment of Greek foreign policy to the realities of the protracted economic crisis demonstrates that the theory of MacDonald and Parent concerning the policies followed by great powers in acute economic decline may also be applied to the study of policies followed by small powers in decline.
The impact of Non-Governmental Organizations’ reconstruction activities in Bosnia and Kosovo was largely determined by the nature and content of two dominant relationships. The first is the donor countries-International NGO (INGO) relationship. To grasp the importance of this relationship, it suffices to mention that, at the global level, donors give around five times more funds to INGOs (and more precisely to their own national NGOs) than to Local NGOs (LNGOs). The second is the International NGO-LNGO relationship. With respect to the first relationship, donor countries had a clear hegemonic position vis-à-vis INGOs. In turn, INGOs developed a hegemonic position towards LNGOs. These hegemonic relationships undermined the quality and effectiveness of aid disbursed and failed to promote the development of an open and democratic civil society. More interestingly, although most donors and INGOs got involved in the post-conflict reconstruction of both countries, very weak learning processes seem to have operated in the region. A comparative examination of the two reconstruction efforts reveals that the manifestation of many inefficiencies and failures was indeed even more acute in Kosovo than in Bosnia.