It is true I have had nothing so far to say about Serbia's new constitution, on which a referendum is being held today and tomorrow. The text itself has been discussed elsewhere, and I agree with the people who point out that 1) it has some good elements and a lot more bad elements, and 2) the procedure by which it was adopted leaves a great deal to be desired. All in all, it is a fairly amateurish legal document, produced in a hurry and very much influenced by the parties of the Milošević regime, SPS and SRS, without whose support it could not pass.

The procedure adopted for the conduct of the referendum is also a bit odd, and there has been ongoing controversy both over the lists of voters and over the fact that voting has been scheduled over two days. A few oddities in the voting have been reported, but if there are to be any huge objections they are more likely to come tomorrow, as the two-day time frame opens a lot of space for various types of manipulation. If there is to be any stuffing of ballot boxes, this will probably happen overnight.

Right now it looks like the referendum will more likely pass than not, but we can be certain about the result probably sometime tomorrow night. Although there have been some high passions both for and against the draft, I have not taken a strong position. The letter of the law matters only when situations encourage somebody to insist on it, and the practice in the country has often been either to ignore laws or to use and interpret them very creatively. A lot more will depend on the habits and orientation of the government that will be elected after the referendum, probably in December, than on legal constraints which will bind the members of the government only formally.

Update: That prediction at the beginning of the last paragraph may well be wrong. Not only Milić, but also Milić reports turnout at 19:00 at 17%. This would make it unlikely that more than 20% would have turned out on the first day, though who knows what will happen on the second day (if something similar happens, the referendum fails). Their report also lists irregularities reported by LDP, as does Index. Surely LDP is not the only available source?

Update2: CeSiD is reporting the first day's turnout as 17.5%. This is the lead story on the Bojkot site, and it is followed by cautions from both Marko Blagojević and Srba Branković to keep in mind the obvious point that there is no precedent for the two-day voting schedule, and that what happens tomorrow may be different from what happens today.

Darko Rundek, "Ruke"

With thanks to whoever put this on JuTube.


Professional courtesy

Thanks to friend of East Ethnia AR for sending along this item. Much has been made of the failure of US forces to participate in apprehending fugitives indicted for war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law in Bosnia-Hercegovina. Could that be because those forces have been violating international humanitarian law in Bosnia-Hercegovina themselves, at the Eagle base in Tuzla?

I would comment on the item, but anything I could say seems sort of beside the point. Which is perfectly clear.

Old wine in new bottles

Are you one of the millions of readers who has been desperately searching for the Belgrade blog but not finding it? That is because it has a spiffy new location.


Welcoming a new Balkan blog

I once tried swimming in the Neretva River. My goodness, it was cold.


Trendsetter Montenegro

By abandoning the tricolore two years ago, Montenegro might have become a trendsetter. Replacing the boring red, blue and white with some more inspiring creatures has apparanetly given some in my home country of Luxembourg an idea. Rather than an eagle, an MP in Luxembourg has suggested to change the flag and introduce the historical lion to the flag.
I would suggest that all countries should get rid of the tricolore and replace it with nice pre-French revolution flags. My requirement would be one animal per flag minimum (Montenegro again outdid it, two!)