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Serbia

Ambiguous Serbian Vote Puts Spotlight on Socialists

Socialist leader Ivica Dacic could hold the balance of power in the new Serbian parliament.
Socialist leader Ivica Dacic could hold the balance of power in the new Serbian parliament.
By Daisy Sindelar and Dragan Stavljanin
If Serbian voters had a message for their politicians, it was: we're as divided as you are.

With 26.7 percent of the vote in the presidential contest on May 6, pro-European Boris Tadic, who was president until his resignation in April, has been forced into a May 20 runoff with nationalist rival Tomislav Nikolic, who finished on his heels with 25.5 percent.

The two men's parties finished neck and neck in the parliamentary contest as well.

In that poll, Nikolic's Progressive Party won 72 seats in Serbia's 250-seat National Assembly, while Tadic's Democrats trailed closely behind with 67 seats.

It's a result that may signal a small shift for Serbia away from the European path.

"I think what we know from these election results is that relatively pro-European forces aren't doing particularly well in these elections," says Daniel Serwer, former U.S. envoy to Bosnia-Herzegovina and an analyst with the Washington-based Center for Transatlantic Relations. "I think what they spell is no basic change in Serbian policy, except somewhat maybe in the more nationalist direction."

Socialists As Kingmakers

The parliamentary vote hands unexpected power to the third-place finisher, the Socialist Party of former Serbian and Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The Socialists, who took a substantial 48 seats, are now set to gain considerable leverage in any future government.

With 90 days to form a government, there is theoretically the possibility of a grand coalition between the Democrats and the Progressives.
Political cartoonist CORAX has Dacic rubbing Aladdin's lamp, wishing for high office, only to conjure up the genie of Milosevic.Political cartoonist CORAX has Dacic rubbing Aladdin's lamp, wishing for high office, only to conjure up the genie of Milosevic.
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Political cartoonist CORAX has Dacic rubbing Aladdin's lamp, wishing for high office, only to conjure up the genie of Milosevic.
Political cartoonist CORAX has Dacic rubbing Aladdin's lamp, wishing for high office, only to conjure up the genie of Milosevic.

But most analysts are putting their money on a coalition that pairs the Socialists as kingmakers with either side. Both camps are said to already be courting party leader Ivica Dacic, who is seen as someone who is striving to distance his party from its tarnished association with Milosevic and the Balkan wars, and who were willing partners of the Democrats in the previous Serbian government.

Dacic, who placed third in the presidential contest with 16 percent of the vote, appeared confident he was holding a strong bargaining chip, and is likely to prolong any decision until after the presidential runoff later this month.

"We still don't know who will be president, but we know for sure who will be the prime minister," Dacic said on May 6, referring to himself. "Whoever wants to talk to us will have to understand that we have risen from the ashes."

Fringe Parties Fare Badly

Fringe parties on both sides of the political spectrum -- from the Radicals led by Vojislav Seselj, who has been indicted for war crimes by The Hague and is currently on trial there, to the Liberal Democrats, the only party to advocate the recognition of Kosovo's independence -- fared poorly.

The Radicals, in particular, failed for the first time to cross the 5-percent threshold needed to enter parliament.

Instead, most votes coalesced around what is seen as an increasingly centrist mainstream where the Progressives favor EU integration and the Democrats have been accused of playing regional troublemaker through their support for Serbian populations in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the rest of the former Yugoslavia.

The vote is seen as a mild rebuke to Tadic, who has overseen a period of economic turmoil, with a quarter of the country's workers now unemployed.

But Tadic -- who finished second in his previous first-round contest against Nikolic in 2008, only to emerge the eventual victor -- is also widely credited with getting Serbia official EU candidate status this year. 

Given the current election results in France and Greece, where ruling leaders and governments were summarily thrown out by a deeply dissatisfied electorate, Ivan Vejvoda of the German Marshall Fund maintains that Tadic and the Democrats have fared relatively well -- and are likely to end up leading whatever government coalition may form.

"If the Democratic Party forms a coalition, as I expect, then the election results will send a really strong message to the government that emerges," he says. "It [will know that it] needs to be much more serious about continuing democratic reforms and solving corruption and other problems."

Written by Daisy Sindelar based on reporting by Dragan Stavljanin of RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Daisy Sindelar

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rick from: Milan
May 07, 2012 18:42
I'd like to understand

WHY

everything must be always divided

in

"pro-west" and "pro-est"

and why the term "pro-west"

is used in a positive sense

while term "pro east" has a negative content .


Seem to see one of those stupid USA movie

where there is always the good and the bad .


All over the world

is "white or black"

"with us" or "against us"


A vision of things a little simplistic ....

no one has ever the doubt
that people
simply

chooses for all their sakes ?

People do not live in a global war

divided between forces of good and evil forces

people simpy is living a daily battle for survival ....
In Response

by: Nemanja from: Belgrade
May 07, 2012 19:12
Because it is a western propaganda site you are visiting. Simple as that.
In Response

by: Rick from: Milan
May 07, 2012 21:13
I Know i Know
but my speech is in general
everywhere you can see this division
on all media
In Response

by: Jack from: US
May 07, 2012 20:04
because governments like US government have to incite hatred and fear in their own citizens, so citizens feel a need for patriot acts and Big Brother protection. That's why US government incites west against east, blacks against whites, muslims against christians.
In Response

by: Rick
May 07, 2012 21:23
YEs , realy
European brothers against European Brothers .

for example Russia is part of our history and our civilization
shares our Christian values

fought our wars in defense of our world

is a fundamental part of our culture
in art, music, dance, painting, literature

Since 40 years warms our homes with regularity

But they want that Russia must be our n°1 public enemy !


in U.S. dollars banknotes

Instead of writing "in god we trust"

they should write

"in caos we trust" ! ! !
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
May 07, 2012 23:17
These are just and well-considered questions to be asking, Rick.

by: vn from: Belgrade
May 08, 2012 06:40
Please note: the turnout was barely 60% of the electorate, meaning that all those 25%s represent gaining a mere one sixth of voters' support. Also, the number of those circling "none of the above" or the so called "while ballots" was nearly 4% - they could even make it to the Parliament. Perhaps they should call for new elections.

Also, the claptrap Democratic party which has championed the clarification of the meaning of corruption and sour economic deals has nothing to do with the European values but with paving its way to personal desires to enter the EU administration.

What is the common problem? Political inarticulation and disunity, not showing expertise benefitial to the interests of the people of Serbia, employing great numbers of novices wheareas disregarding experienced professionals, not providing economic incentives, all in all a trivial cheap talk serving the interests of the western enemies to humanity.
In Response

by: BFD from: Resna
May 08, 2012 20:13
Sounds like sour grapes coming from a losing culture/society/country.

Proud Serbs, more like whiney Serbs.
In Response

by: vn from: Belgrade
May 09, 2012 06:41
As always, I'm impressed by the afflictions of limited minds and their fermented fluency starting all the way from the Big Fantastic Deal Pizza etc. Would your fees have to be brought forward by Banque de France (in euros converted from the Belgian francs?) or would the British Funds suffice? Change the wine, please.
In Response

by: BFD from: Resna
May 09, 2012 15:53
vn,

Fees have to be brought forward by the Russian mob, oh wait, that's what is propping up the Serbain economy.

I prefer slivovitz from my own country, thank you.
In Response

by: rick
May 09, 2012 22:24
john wayne arrived ...

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