2008-02-05

Accelerating the forces of academic productivity

Another round of elections in Serbia, another article.

4 comments:

Dejan said...

This is a long comment, but I make some good points :P

Eric, you wrote about how this high turnout could translate into higher civic participation and interest in politics.

This is what concerns me the most. It is hard, if not impossible, to participate in Serbian politics. It's hard enough to get involved in participation of municipal governments and decision making, while any participation in the "high" politics takes so much elbowing around political parties (or money), that it seems impossible.

All of this is made even harder by total lack of transparency. Constitution referendum was a good example, as well as the concession thing, not to mention that we know nothing about behind the scenes in Kosovo. To add to that, we are lied to all the time (e.g. when Đelić kept insisting that we will sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement, while it was obvious to anyone with an access to the Internet and wee interest in SAA that the Dutch will block it - and if not obvious, then highly likely).

Finally, while your article sums it up correctly you missed a huge point: it is now clear that Koštunica is abusing his position and getting much more powerful then he democratically ought to be. But, what about G17+?. They have relatively small percentage of voters, yet they control major economic resources of the country (I don't know how much influence they have over Jelašić, but without doubt National bank lacks integrity and independence from the executive branch).

Eric Gordy said...

Dejan, I see what you mean. But can you explain further about what you expect from G17+? There seems to be a sense in your comment that you think they have some motivations that are not clear, but I'm not sure I have a clear sense of what you have in mind.

Dejan said...

Eric, I'm just stating the obvious: G17+ has always been a relatively marginal party (i.e. they are constantly in the government, but with a relatively small percentage of voters), yet they exercise control over the country's economy. This has been through various ministries and posts in the government, control over the NBS, etc. They have largely influenced, if not controlled, policy making and agenda setting in the sphere of finance and economy since 2000.

While I certainly oppose a two-party system (especially here and now) and I like seeing smaller parties in the government, it is "undemocratic" to let somebody with 5% or 10% of popular support control these major spheres of life.

This is a government wide problem though - it is unacceptable to have Velja Ilić control all of "capital investments", just like it's unacceptable for DSS to control policy for Kosovo.

My (partly rhetoric, partly as an exercise in comparative governmental structures) question is: how to stop "feudalisation" of ministries and resources, which would in turn stop political parties from policy making without full support and cooperation of other governmental parties (which would in turn prevent situation in which minor parties control important ministries)?

Eric Gordy said...

Okay, I see what you mean here. I suppose the reason that I do not see it as a big problem is that it does not seem like G17 has a unique agenda that they impose. But then your point might be sufficient, it is economic policy made without any popular consultation.

The feudalisation seems like it is a consequence of the coalitions that are forced after every election. It is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, if you consider that the alternative is for one party to have complete dominance. It becomes more troubling when it forces compromises to be made at the cabinet level that have nothing to do with the public. But in this case, the problem seems to be that the parties in government do not have a consensus on even basic questions, like what the responsibilities of the government are.

I hope that was more sensible than abstract.