Great moments in musical history

Thanks to the mysterious Ms. W.


Odlazak u noć

Although Politika ran a headline on Friday announcing "the government is stable until Monday," in fact it gave up the ghost on Saturday. Today the government will request the president to schedule parliamentary elections for 11 May. And not a moment too soon: as an old graffito said about Communism, it was "not dead, it just smelled that way." To review the initiatives of prime minister Koštunica since the beginning of the year, he:
  • failed in an attempt to undermine his coalition's candidate in the first round of presidential elections
  • failed in an attempt to sabotage the second round of presidential elections through a silent boycott
  • used the Kosovo conflict as cover to sell off large parts of the domestic energy industry to foreign companies for a fraction of their value in a non-competitive process
  • engaged a media and parliamentary campaign to shift the country from near-candidate status for the EU to enemy of the EU
  • revived the mobilisation techniques of the late 1980s to provoke large-scale violence which included looting, arson and at least one unnecessary death
  • failed in an effort to preserve his rule indefinitely by forcing a state of emergency
  • failed in an effort to coordinate a silent coup with his allies in the Serbian Radical Party
It was probably the failure of this last effort that provoked Mr Koštunica's abrupt resignation. In contrast with every other party in Serbian politics, SRS believes that it can win an election and does not need to make deals with Koštunica. Koštunica knows that his party has poor chances in any election, but knows that he is incapable of governing as well.

Is the resignation of the government a crisis? No, it has needed to go for a while already, and if Mr Koštunica had any sense he would have resigned immediately after the presidential election. The new elections, however, do mean some uncertainty. There are a couple of possible positive outcomes, which would include:
  • the orientation of the majority of citizens as expressed in the presidential elections could be confirmed
  • Koštunica could be marginalised from political life and a government formed without his party, which at this point will be lucky to make it into the parliament at all
These are, of course, not the only possible outcomes. It is also possible that:
  • a populist wave brings SRS to power
  • Koštunica could finally go the direction he has been hinting for years, from his grey-black coalition with SRS, and complete the restoration of the Milošević regime
This is probably the outcome on which Koštunica is gambling. In doing so, he is assuming that SRS needs his support, and this is probably a bad assumption.

In the long term, Koštunica and his allies have no political future. Serbia is not a political scene in which several options are competing but a polarised society, as it has been for two decades. There are only two political options. The effort of politicians like Koštunica to stake out a "middle ground" between the two is hopeless from the start. One of these options is going to have to win. I am not willing to predict just yet which one it is likely to be.