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Serbia: Is Nationalist-Socialist Coalition Ready To Take Power?

Serbian President Boris Tadic calls a nationalist-socialist coalition a "short trip on the Titanic" (file photo) (AFP) Political uncertainty continues in Serbia with an anti-Western coalition of nationalists and socialists announcing that they are close to forming a government. The announcement follows a failed effort earlier in the week by pro-European reformers to form a ruling coalition.

Socialist leader Ivan Dacic announced on May 15 that his party, the ultranationalist Radical Party, and the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) had "agreed on the principles" of forming a coalition government.

That marked a sharp reversal from reports days earlier that Dacic's Socialists -- the former party of the late Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic -- were close to forming a government with a pro-Western coalition led by Serbian President Boris Tadic's Democratic Party.

Speaking to RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service on May 15, Marko Djurisic, head of the Democratic Party's executive committee, says he believes the nationalist-socialist coalition currently being discussed would not be politically sustainable.

"These are not the political ideas to which the Serbian people gave their votes," he says. "It wouldn't be a stable government. It wouldn't be the kind of government that could help Serbia to quickly integrate into Europe, attract foreign investment, or create new jobs."

'Short Trip On Titanic'

Tadic said a nationalist-socialist coalition would be "a short trip on the Titanic" and vowed to try to block it.

Since an inconclusive general election on May 11, Serbia's politics have been uneasily balanced between hard-liners and pro-Western liberals. Tadic's pro-Western coalition, For A European Serbia, came in first place in the election, winning 102 mandates in the 250-seat parliament. The Radical Party, led by firebrand Tomislav Nikolic, came in second, winning 77 seats. A grouping led by outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's DSS came in third with 30 seats.

Nikolic and Kostunica are allies, but their combined 107 seats also fell short of a majority. This left Dacic's Socialist Party, which came in fourth place with 20 seats, in the unlikely role of kingmaker.

Hints of a deal between Dacic's Socialists, Nikolic's Radicals, and Kostunica's DSS emerged earlier in the day on May 15. The three parties announced that they were in talks to form a coalition government at the local level in Belgrade that would make Aleksandar Vucic, a rising young leader in the Radical Party, mayor of the Serbian capital.

Local elections were also held in Serbia on May 11.

Speaking at a press conference on May 15, before news of an emerging deal at the national level, Vucic was coy when asked whether a coalition agreement at the local level in Belgrade would have national implications.

"Whatever works in Belgrade isn't relevant to the national level," he said. "You should ask somebody else what is happening at the national level and what deals are being made."

Hours later, however, Dacic announced that a national coalition with the Radicals and the DSS was in the works.

RFE/RL Balkan Report

RFE/RL Balkan Report


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