6 June 2002, Volume
DOES SERBIA NEED EARLY ELECTIONS?
Part II. (Part I appeared on 30 May.)
A broadcast on 28 April of Radio Most (Bridge) by Omer Karabeg of RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service with Goran Vesic, a member of the executive committee of the Democratic Party (DS) of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, and Dragan Jocic, a member of the presidency of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.
You say that early elections would clarify the situation on the political stage in Serbia.
Certainly. But there are no opposition parties on the political stage of Serbia; there are only losers, remnants of the previous regime. Those parties do not act as an opposition but rather as a destructive force.
When I said that early elections will clarify the situation, I was talking about them as well, since those parties will get fewer votes [than in 2000], and some of them will probably disappear from the political stage.
Early elections will thus bring many changes across the spectrum.
I agree that the best thing for Serbia would be if both the future government and the future opposition were from the [ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia coalition] DOS. I also agree that the present opposition parties are actually remnants of the previous regime, and that therefore we cannot call them "opposition" but rather "destructive forces." Their dream is to return to power and bring back Slobodan Milosevic from The Hague in order to push the country into isolation again.
I sincerely hope, and this is where I share Mr. Jocic's opinion, that some of those opposition parties will eventually disappear from the political stage, since I do not think it would be good for Serbia if they survived.
I can also see some changes among the Socialists (SPS). It seems to me that the Socialists will probably split into two parties, maybe more. The Radicals (SRS) are actually a fascist, retrograde, and destructive party. They have polluted the political stage of Serbia over the past 10 years, and it would really be good for Serbia if they disappeared.
However, I think that because of [the in-fighting] going on within the DOS, some of those parties have become aggressive again. It made them think that things could again be like they used to be.
There have been several attempts this spring to [intimidate] the government. The SPS has held three rallies so far, and there is a Radicals' rally every single week. Of course, those rallies do not really threaten the government, but their activities seem to be synchronized.
One should not forget to mention Vuk Draskovic [of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO)], who is trying to make his political comeback. [Editor's note: Once the strongest opposition party in Serbia, the SPO did not join DOS in 2000 and did not make it into the parliament in the elections that year. Draskovic recently held several large rallies in the Serbian heartland.]
I think that my friend from the DSS will agree with me that none of the parties within the DOS has any future in any sort of a coalition with any party that used to belong to the former regime. Those people simply have different mind-sets, they belong to another world, and they are really a disaster for our country.
Let us go back to the main topic of this dialogue: early elections. Mr. Vesic claims that there will be no early elections in Serbia as long as the present government enjoys the support of a parliamentary majority in the Serbian parliament. Mr. Jocic, can you accept that?
There is one more factor that could influence the decision whether to call early elections or not, regardless of any vote of confidence: pressure by the international community to hold elections at all levels.... It seems to me that the international community will have a crucial role in bringing about that decision, just as it did at some critical times in the past.
I was not aware that the influence of the international community is so important for the Democratic Party of Serbia. President Kostunica recently said that he is impervious to the pressures of the international community, which makes me believe that he will be able to resist pressures regarding elections, too.
When I mentioned the pressure of the international community, I was not talking about pressure on the government in Serbia, but about efforts to stabilize the situation in this part of the Balkans, including the creation of the joint state of Serbia and Montenegro.
That also included pressure on the Montenegrin leadership, which could lead to pressure on us to have early elections at all levels. This is the sort of pressure I was talking about.
Let us imagine that early elections have been held. Mr. Jocic, what will happen if the balance of forces on the political stage of Serbia remains the same, as some are predicting?
Well, coalitions will certainly be formed. The most important thing is that none of the parties will be able to win an absolute majority.
In that case, the elections would actually be a test of strength between the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia.
Basically, that is correct. The relations between the Democratic Party of Serbia and the Democratic Party will determine the overall arrangement of political forces and the composition of governments for the next several years. That is why I say that early elections will not hurt the reform process.
Mr. Vesic, do you think that every future election will actually be a test of strength between the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia?
I am not sure about every future election, but the next election will certainly be.