This article explores how national executives in Serbia and Bulgaria address European Union (EU) rule of law conditionality by framing it within the populism/technocracy dichotomy. The rule of law remains one of the main problems of EU relations with the two countries. While acknowledging the nuances of pre- and post-enlargement Europeanisation, this article explores the technocratic and populist narratives exploited by the national executives in their interactions with the EU and their domestic public. Rather than positioning the current executives unequivocally either as populist or technocratic, we argue that the political elites act strategically in using both populist and technocratic techniques towards their publics when explaining interaction with the EU. We explore the extent this type of executive behaviour is determined by the countries’ formally different status. While we look for the levels of possible similarity and distinction in the two cases/countries stemming from their different EU membership status, our findings confirm the existence of strategic defensive populist and technocratic techniques applied towards the EU and the national public in both countries The aim of this strategy is to mitigate the impact of the EU rule of law pressure and to secure the persistence of the existing rule of law shortcomings within the process of European integration. Interestingly, our research did not identify substantial impact of the formally different status towards the EU of the two countries.
Populism, Technocracy, Rule of law, Europeanization, Bulgaria, Serbia
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.Material published in the JCER is done so under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence, with copyright remaining with the author.
- Articles published online in the JCER cannot be published in another journal without explicit approval of the JCER editor.
- Authors can 'self-archive' their articles in digital form on their personal homepages, funder repositories or their institutions' archives provided that they link back to the original source on the JCER website. Authors can archive pre-print, post-print or the publisher's version of their work.
- Authors agree that submitted articles to the JCER will be submitted to various abstracting, indexing and archiving services as selected by the JCER.