Serbian elections, short version

The mostly pro-European Democratic Party (DS) did surprisingly well — possibly because of a surprising last-minute from Brussels to give Serbia a “Stabilization and Association Agreement”. This was fairly blatant intervention on Brussels’ part, but it seems to have worked — at least in terms of getting more votes for DS.

Prime Minister Kostunica’s increasingly nationalist and obnoxious Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) tanked and burned, possibly because they overplayed their hand — they were all Kosovo, all the time, and pretty explicitly anti-European.

The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) got 28% of the vote, which is almost exactly what they got in the last election, and also the one before that.

The Socialist Party of Serbia (Milosevic’s old party, still kicking) did okay, picking up a few extra seats.

So the vote totals are:

Democrats — 102
Radicals — 78
DPS — 30
Socialists — 20
Liberals — 13
Ethnic minority parties — 7

Total: 250 seats

So, suddenly the little Socialist Party is riding high. 126 votes are needed for a majority; DSS + Radicals + Socialists = 128, while Democrats + Socialists + minority parties = 129.

So the Socialist kingmakers are playing it cool for the nonce, letting both sides run up their bids. Among their less palatable demands: rehabilitation of Milosevic and pardons for his creepy wife and disgusting son, currently under indictment and on the lam in Russia.

We’re in Serbia now, so everything is of course much much more complicated than I’ve just described. But that should serve as a starting point.

Meanwhile: Eurovision semifinals this week! And the final on Saturday night! In Belgrade!

8 thoughts on “Serbian elections, short version

  1. Doug,

    Maybe it’s worth pointing out that almost none of the groups you have listed in the total seats won are single political organizations, ie most are coalitions. For example, Democrats are a group of pro-European political parties; DPS is in cahoots with Nova Srbija; “Socialists” are in cahoots with Jedinstvena Srbija and pensioners, “Liberals” also represent a number of groups and organizations, although Cedo is king.

    Since we’re dealing with Serbia it is not unimaginable that these coalitions could break even before the new parliament starts its work. This is the hope of many pro-Europeans in Serbia, ie a division of “Socialists” — resulting in a DS (Democrats) + Cedo (Liberals) + United Serbia (part of Socialists) + Minorities (Hungarians, Bosniaks and Albanians) grand-grand-grand coalition.

    Anyhow, I recall very well how Solana and Brussels were very upset about 3-4 years ago when the then-government wanted to rely on Socialist votes in parliament to pass some important laws. So, the question is: what has changed since then in Socialist Party of Serbia (Milosevic’s party)? Any honest and sincere person will tell you that nothing has changed within SPS, however the circumstances in Serbia have — and EU thinks that it’s better to have the Socialists in power than the Radicals + Kostunica. It is hypocrisy if all of the sudden we start hearing how the Socialists are now a moderated left-leaning party — because the fact of the matter is that they have not made the slightest effort to distance themselves from Milosevic and his era and all the bad things (or good things depending on your point of view) of these troubled times.

    The bottom line, in my opinion, is that Tadic’s democrats did really well — much better then expected. However, he is about to taste the bitter-sweet victories of the Radicals in the previous two general elections, ie becoming the largest single party in parliament but not strong enough to come to power. Tadic and Cedo Jovanovic together with the minorities could have formed the government but are short of 2 seats. In my previous posts I raised a very important question that if it weren’t for the votes of the Kosovar Serbs — who overwhelmingly voted for Radicals and Kostunica — this coalition could have easily taken power. The sad story if that Serbia with Tadic’s backing organised Serbian elections in Kosovo against the advice of the United Nations and as a result he is about to become a looser, not a winner (winner is he who comes to power), in these elections. Maybe next time he shouldn’t push so hard for Kosovar Serbs to be included in the electoral map of Serbia.

  2. The SPS-PUPS-JS agreement specifically prohibits the fracturing of its parliamentary faction as I presume some hope with the JS’s Dragan Markovic, aka Palma, aka Arkan’s best man, making a break for the European Union… The headache the SPS got for itself just to get on TV… amazing. I know that the DOS did not have to go to such lengths in 2000 to get on TV… but then again Serbia was not “free” then either…

    The DS gets about 2/3rds of the European Serbia parliamentary group (thus the Radicals remain the largest single party), most of the rest goes to the positively awful G17 Plus that has run the economy without interruption since 5 October 2000 and held a significant parliamentary faction last time… The discredited Vuk Draskovic and the discredited Vojvodina separatist Nenad Canak also are part of this alliance as is Rasim Ljajic’s Muslim party. As a result, the rival Muslim party led by Sulejman Ugljanin, that has won two seats, has ruled out joining the DS-led alliance, and also has cited to anti-Muslim policies and actions of Vuk Draskovic as another justification for that. Thus, they are in talks with the so-called nationalists.

    Mr Draskovic by the way could easily be in The Hague instead of Seselj, that’s if had Draskovic decided to oppose Nato hegemony, he did the exact same things Seselj did only his volunteers did worse things. Then again, serving Nato did not save Biljana Plavsic. Draskovic I think benefits from the lack of publicity; he is not known for his volunteers the way Seselj is, Seselj who even is blamed for activities of unrelated militias. Seselj’s use of the brand “Chetnik” got him in trouble for the activities of all that used the name, though Vuk did lead those ceremonies on Ravna Gora.

    I’ve seen a lot of nonsense in the media about how the SPS will eventually make a deal with the DS so that it sheds the Milosevic heritage and becomes a typical leftist party and this will rejuvenate it as its typical voters are old and young people just want a typical leftist party. Some EU officials think that without Milosevic, it can be used as the SPRS was used in the late 1990s in the Republika Srpska. Well, look what’s happened to the SPRS. Look also what happened to Nebojsa Covic’s different “moderate social-democratic” parties, or what happened to Zoran Lilic’s SSDP or to Branislav Ivkovic’s SNP… all sunk without a trace.

  3. Well, the last elections in Serbia reminded everybody once more how little things have progressed in Serbia since the Miloshevic era. Radicals have an unchallenged 50+ percent of the electorate.

    There can not be a real political shift in Serbia without addressing the responsibilities of Serbian society in the yugoslav wars and massacres of the 90-ies. Only after a broad Katharsis within Serbia that scary 50+ percent could diminish.

    I live in Germany and even after 65 years every week you can see a two-hour documentary of the Nazi crimes in major German TV channels. That’s what Serbia really needs. If Serbia isn’t able to initiate such a Katharsis by itself, than it shouldn’t be courted by the EU with undeserved political concessions but it should be punished. Isolation has so far proved to be the only successful mean of dealing with nationalistic or radical ideological myths in Serbia or elsewhere.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Tadic’s party strikes an unexpected deal with Kostunica or other radicals so that they keep EU money flowing. And do not forget that Tadic’s party fully deserves to be labeled as radical by any standards other than Serb ones. European countries should stop financing radicalism in Serbia. They should let serbs make their own choices and of course let them suffer the consequences.

  4. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Serbia: Election Results Roundup

  5. Well, Croats had the chance to see documentaries about their Nazi past during the 1990s by watching Serbian TV. It sure helped them! Why should Serbs apologise for the 1990s when official Croatia hasn’t apologised for the 1940s and what they did was far worse.

    To me, claiming that Serbs are Balkan villains who should atone a la Germany after the Nazis is a non-starter. That’s a sure way to get the Serbs to tune out.

    It’s like Central Africa. The enlightened ones say that Hutus are the great villains and must apologise endlessly and submit to Tutsi rule. Who remembers 1972? Who remembers 1997? Who remembers 1993 for that matter when the RPF rampaged under the noses of the peacekeepers and were rewarded for that!

    These demands for apologies and atonement do not serve peace in these cases. They serve to deepen the conflicts, in my opinion, as it’s a deliberate forcing of a version of history that dehumanises and degrades one side to the benefit of the exalted ones who coincidentally serve imperial interests. The South Africans had a better idea with Truth and Reconciliation.

  6. “Well, Croats had the chance to see documentaries about their Nazi past during the 1990s by watching Serbian TV. It sure helped them! Why should Serbs apologise for the 1990s when official Croatia hasn’t apologised for the 1940s and what they did was far worse.”

    Serbian television in the 1990s might not be the best place to look for accurate documentation of Balkans history. (Croatian television would be much the same for Serbs, I don’t doubt.)

    “To me, claiming that Serbs are Balkan villains who should atone a la Germany after the Nazis is a non-starter. That’s a sure way to get the Serbs to tune out.”

    That’s their choice, and the consequences will also be theirs.

  7. “…the consequences will be theirs”… For what? For not believing a false version of history? Because their “only friends” in the EU have punishments in store for refusing to accept self-hating lies? This is a threat that sounds like it comes from a gangster…

    It was one of those American envoys, Holbrooke I think, possibly Gelbard, who actually compared himself to Al Capone after meeting Milosevic, citing his famous quote about “getting further with a kind word and a gun”…

    This thuggery is one reason why seeing good results for the Radicals and Socialists is so encouraging. It’s nice to see that fear hasn’t paralysed everyone in that country.

    Still, the EU appears rather foolish to try to force an admission of supreme villainy on Serbia when the Independent State of Croatia committed infinitely worse crimes and these are airbrushed out of history as if they never happened. No one has made a massive set of Croatian confessions for the NDH a prerequisite to being “accepted” or subject to threats from the Western powers for refusing to make such confessions.

    The activities of Serbs in the 1990s, particularly those west of the Drina where the wars were fought, were directly tied to the NDH period. The NDH ruled the lands where the wars were fought. The NDH-era alliances were being brought back under Western power auspices.

    Many of those considered Serb war criminals, including Mladic, had suffered at the hands of the NDH and lost because of that regime. Now the Serbs are supposed to accept supposed villainy with this important context removed? One cannot even accuse Serbs of overreacting to the spectre of the NDH offered by those anti-Serb forces assembled under Western patronage as Serbs supposedly drove villainy without provocation whatsoever, or were all crazy… it’s amazing to see Western governments finance Serbs who have promoted such things in Serbia…

  8. R,

    You don’t think that Serbia should come to terms with what happened in Yugoslavia in the 90s out of a sense of morality. Let’s accept that for a second, even though I think you are wrong both in this and assuming that no one apologized or suffered for the ISC and that the current nation of Croatia is irretrievably linked to crimes of the ISC.

    How about out of a sense of practicality? Milosevic and the Socialists were in power for a very long time and accomplished nothing. Serbia and its proxies lost war after war, territory after territory, many Serbs were ethnically cleansed, and the good name of Serbia from WWI and WWII was dragged through the mud and may never recover. Why in the world is it good news that the colossal incompetents and screwups involved in the not-so-glorious 90s still receive a lot of votes?

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