This paper discusses how disparities and in particular perceptions of inequality may have influenced political participation in Western Balkans over the last years.
The arrival of the international crisis in the last quarter of 2008 has had not only economic but also significant political consequences on the region. While citizens’ participation through conventional channels has continued decreasing, there has been a rising opposition to political and economic institutions channelled by the emergence of new social movements. This paper shows that these political changes were largely motivated not by observed changes in income distribution but by people’s perceptions of rising disparities between rich and poor. This analysis is further supported by the empirical testing of a number of mechanisms that may shape the relationship between inequality and political participation such as expectations, changes in living conditions and corruption.