For all the talk of “democracy promotion” in the US political debate, there’s very little acknowledgment that the EU expansion process has probably been the most successful democracy promotion endeavor anyone’s ever come up with. See, for example, what lies in store for Croatia now that Slovenia’s no longer holding up their accession process:
It is certainly a big leap forward for Croatia after months in which talks had stalled, thanks to the veto by Slovenia.
Now that the joint border dispute appears to be close to a resolution, talks are once again under way.
Croatia still has some work to do though – its fight against corruption, the efficiency of its courts and public administration bodies, and co-operation with The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia all present considerable challenges.
The carrot of EU membership is tasty enough that it can actually force incumbents in transitional states to make serious efforts on these issues. Absent that kind of carrot, the tendency is for democracy to be a useful slogan for opposition movements that gets dropped by whoever’s in power at the moment.