2008-01-21

Glasali ste....

There is undoubtedly a bunch of stuff to said about yesterday's election in Serbia. Some of what I had to say I said here.

4 comments:

Aleksandar said...

I read your article, and have to say that I agree with almost all of what you say, although I'm not optimistic enough to ever doubt the power of my fellow Serbs to shoot themselves in the foot (and face, and knee, and... you get it).

One thing I found interesting is that despite the high turnout, Belgrade itself had one of the lowest turnouts. Yet, if anyone has profited (economically, culturally, etc...) from the post-Milosevic era, it is Belgraders. Secondly, I always had a sense that political or economic crises take more of a toll on urban dwellers. So will the "looming threat" of Nikolic mobilize this demographic and help Tadic make up the difference?

Another thing I found interesting is the following comment:

"For these two ruling parties, the SRS provides a pretext to form coalitions with one another, and to avoid developing the sort of clear political profile which would allow elections to take on the character of a meaningful decision among clear and realistic political options".

So is Serbia becoming a case of so-called "feckless pluralism"? I am of the opinion that DS has gained nothing by constantly acquiescing to policies that directly discredit their Europe-progress-jobs rhetoric. Should Tadic win this time around, it will be a strong mandate. Can we expect a break with DSS after that? How about fears of a future DSS-SRS coalition? Frankly, I think DSS would be completely subsumed, and they like calling the shots with no legitimacy way too much to let that happen to them. So even more of a reason for DS to make a break for it?

Eric Gordy said...

Alaksandar, thanks for this. I am not certain what to make of the low turnout in Bg either. It would be important to know who did not turn out (although I have a feeling my guess is probably right). I do get the sense that there are a lot of people who would vote for DS but feel disappointed or cheated -- some of these people may have switched to LDP, but no doubt a lot them simply did not vote at all.

All of the questions about DSS are important. It seems like the part of the party that likes to flirt with SRS is better represented in the leadership than in the membership, so that might slow down any dramatic moves. At the same time, it is easy to understand why Kostunica would use the best instrument he has.

As for DS -- it is hard to expect anything there. I think they are held back by a very cautious leadership, and also by the image of themselves that dates from their founding as the party that unifies left and right. Probably there is some fear of coming out with a clear programme and ending up on the margins like LDP (why there is not also a fear of ending up like G17, I dont know). It would take a lot of courage for DS to act independently, and who knows? They may surprise people, but it is hard to see.

Dejan said...

Eric, that was a nice overview and I'm glad you recognized (though I had no doubts you would) Kosovo as a non-issue in these elections. I think there is one key thing worth noting: two governmental candidates (Tadić and Ilić) between themselves gathered less than 50% of the votes. It doesn't seem it will hurt the government.

Aleksandar, you have to remember that Belgrade is not only Savski Venac & Vračar, but also Obrenovac, Mladenovac, Lazarevac, which all have small urban cores and large agricultural land, and a totally different living standards and needs than downtown Belgrade. Also, there is outskirts of Zemun, Palilula (which spans well into the northern bank of Danube), Grocka, Sopot, Barajevo...

We are often confused about election results in Belgrade, but it is a fact that Belgrade is much bigger and more heterogeneous than we imagine it to be.

Aleksandar said...

Dejan, I see what you mean. In fact, I feel the Vracar/Dorcol/Savksi Vencac crowd are exactly the people who stayed home.

So who did vote Radical? I agree that Kosovo probably doesn't have much to do with it. I think it's "transition losers". Yes life is better for the "krug dvojke" but Kragujevac, Bor, Nis...

DS' behaviour has a lot to do with this. I think they are doing serious, serious long-term damage to the European/progressive project in Serbia. How? They are cheapening any value it might still hold. The correct rhetoric is there but they keep acquiescing to a PM and his crew whose policies are clearly not wholeheartedly liberal or pro-European.

It's been 7 years since 2000, and I think people are starting to say "this is "Europe?", this is "democracy"? "I think the Radicals could do this too, let's give them a chance". Especially now that a) the "democratic block" has clearly moved to the right and b)the radicals have cooled their rhetoric a bit performed a half-hearted image makeover.

The longer they wait to break with DSS the harder it will be to save face once (if) they do.