This significant development echoes another, little noticed one that happened in the week before the election. It was in itself a minor event, but something happened in the governing coalition for the first time since it was formed after an arduous four-month process in May 2007: the ministers from the DS and the G17+ outvoted, en bloc, the ministers from the DSS and the NS. Few people will be materially affected by the decision, but as an announcement of the intention by the DS to function as an autonomous political actor, its importance is unmistakable. The DS now has a president with a majority mandate, and it controls a majority of the seats in the cabinet.An obvious consequence is that the government could easily fall. This was probably the more likely of the two scenarios I set out (the other was that Koštunica would brave marginality to keep the job he thinks is his by right).
But I did not have a sense when I offered the prediction that it would happen within a week. DSS-NS and its allies in SRS and SPS want a discussion in parliament on Serbia's kobajagi agreement with the EU without the government meeting beforehand to give its recommendation, as the law requires. So Koštunica has been ignoring demands by the majority of government ministers, the presiding officer of the parliament, and the president of the republic to schedule a meeting of the cabinet.
Some sort of compromise appears to have been reached, if you can call it that. The cabinet will meet by telephone. I do not know what sort of procedural rules apply to such a meeting, but there have been stranger meetings.
Koštunica put himself in the position of holding a vote in the cabinet, which he would lose, or causing new elections, which he would also lose. The second of these is what will most likely happen, sooner rather than later.
Correction: The ministers will chat over the telephone about the sale of the mining operation in Bor, but not about the agreement with the EU. Selling off the country's natural resources is important, its future is not.