Since the collapse of communism in Europe in the 1990s, democracy has seen mixed results, at best, in Southeastern Europe. Democracies in the region are still confronted with many challenges, including a rapidly shifting array of political parties, worrying upticks in malign foreign influence, and rising levels of youth emigration.

Belarus opposition supporters

In an IRI regional poll conducted in 2020, a majority of citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Serbia indicated that they believed that their country was either a “flawed democracy” or not one at all, underscoring the need for stronger democracy support. 

IRI’s assistance comes in a variety of forms and plays a critical role throughout the region, with eight field offices providing support to political, governmental, and non-governmental actors as they respond to new challenges. Traditionally, in Europe, IRI has worked to strengthen political parties, with IRI experts helping party leaders and candidates run effective, citizen-responsive campaigns. Though this is still a cornerstone of programming in the region, IRI has expanded its work, building partnerships with trusted leaders in civil society, providing expert support to government agencies and civil servants to strengthen transparency and counter corruption, and increasing its investment in promising young leaders across the region.

Some examples of this new approach include IRI’s role in creating a documentary on interethnic reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supporting the development of North Macedonia’s first ever Open Finance Portal, putting in place anti-corruption programs in Albania and Bulgaria, and establishing the region’s premier political leadership academy. As domestic and foreign actors challenge democracy in the region, IRI will continue its work building resilient democratic institutions capable of delivering meaningful change for the citizens of Southeastern Europe.

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Western Balkans Task Force

IRI’s Western Balkans regional program focuses on countering malign foreign influence and extremism, including extreme ethnonationalism and the rise of the far right, in the region. Since its inception in 2016, the Task Force has developed into a key forum for regional discussions among pro-democratic actors and policy makers who seek to improve the region’s democratic future.



Since the fall of communism in the early 1990s, Albania has made enormous strides in transitioning from dictatorship to democracy,…

Bosnia and Herzegovina

IRI is working in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to promote a multi-party political system that is responsive to citizens’ needs…

Anti-Corruption Protest In Bulgaria


IRI is focusing most of its work in Bulgaria on fighting political corruption. IRI’s programming in the country is aimed…


Though Kosovo has a dynamic political scene, the country’s political parties still need support in their efforts to respond to…

Individuals presenting poster


IRI is supporting meaningful youth participation in politics by working with key governing and opposition parties to strengthen Montenegrin party…

North Macedonia Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Follow IRI Briefing on Citizens Local Needs and Issues

North Macedonia

North Macedonia, a parliamentary republic, celebrated three decades of independence and multi-party democracy in 2021. The country has been a…

Serbian Protest


IRI is working to improve party responsiveness to citizens’ needs by promoting political competition, pluralism, and a democratic culture. Specifically,…

A large group in Turkey gathers outside


IRI is promoting political competition by helping political leaders with policy development and advocacy, and by cultivating a new generation…

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