Serbia: Tadic wins

Narrow — it’s about 51%/49% — but sure.

I’ve already posted on what this means. I’ll confess I was half hoping for a Nikolic victory, if only to shake things up; it would have been bad in the short run, but might have opened up new possibilities further along.

A couple of notes below.

Cedomir Jovanovic, head of the Liberal Democrats and the one really non-nationalist politician in Serbia, refused to endorse Tadic. This seems to have been some mixture of personal pique (Cedo is very prone to that) and politique du pire; Cedo was probably calculating that a Nikolic victory would lead to the fall of the current government and a chance for his small party to do better, either in new elections or in leading a “democratic” opposition. (One of several unfortunate things about Serbian politics is that the LDP — the party with the most sane and rational platform — has a leader who is anything but.)

The Albanian minority in the Presevo Valley in South Serbia refused to endorse Tadic either, for much the same reason. That’s understandable but unfortunate; when the Albanians refuse to vote in Serbian politics, it lends strength to extremists on both sides. A lot of Albanians in Presevo seem to think they’re going to be part of Kosovo in a few years anyway, swapped for the piece of Kosovo that’s north of the Ibar. That might make sense, but it’s not going to happen for many years, if it ever does, and in the meantime it does them no good to try ignoring the state they’re part of.

PM Kostunica — who refused to endorse Tadic, and was pretty openly yearning for Nikolic to win — takes a hit, but I’m not sure if that translates into anything politically meaningful. His coalition partners have already said they’ll stick with him. So he may come out of this with nothing more than mild embarrassment.

Anyway. This is being spun as a “victory for pro-Western forces” and a “step towards Europe”, but it isn’t really. Tadic’s win means pretty much more of the same. The current government will stumble onwards. Kosovo will declare its independence in a month or two. Russia’s Gazprom will still have a monopoly on energy distribution. The EU will offer Serbia a special deal on trade and visas, but Serbia still won’t get its SAA. Same old.

Oh, well. Tadic is a decent enough stick. I could wish he were stronger, but Serbia’s Presidency doesn’t have that much power, and he’s in a politically complicated situation. He does seem to be trying to push the country in the right direction. Now he has five more years to do it. I wish him luck.