Moderation in Mitrovica

This post is re-posted from Nationalities Blog

Amidst the anticipation of the opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the declaration of independence of Kosovo was illegal or not, other developments are easily overlooked. One little reported election was the local election in Northern Mitrovica on 30 May 2010, organized by Serbia for the parallel municipal structure.

2010 2008
Party Votes Seats Percents Votes Seats Percent
SNS 1,104 7 17.55%
DSS 1,085 7 17.25% 1,735 9 27.68%
DS 1,065 6 16.93% 1,122 6 17.90%
SPS/PUPS/JS 664 3 10.55% 534 2 8.49%
S-D-P, Oliver Ivanovic 461 3 7.33%
G17 442 2 7.03% 223 0 3.56%
SDPS, Rasim Ljajic 319 2 5.07%
Serb National Council, Ivanovic 264 0 4.20%
New Hope, Nebojsa Covic 238 0 3.78%
SRS 214 0 3.40% 2,068 11 33%
For a better future of Mitrovica 157 0 2.50%
Movement for K.M. 133 0 2.11% 383 2 6.11%
NS 123 0 1.96%
Turnout 6,291 6,268
Eligible Voters 20,372 20,652

Source:  Republican Election Commission

Although the elections by themselves re-affirm the parallel structures supported by Serbia, the results suggest a more intriguing picture.
Mitrovica is at the front-line of the dispute over Kosovo’s independence and has long been the site for radical politics. Results of the previous elections, held in May 2008, just a few months after Kosovo’s declaration of independence, confirmed this: The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) of Prime Minister Kostunica and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) together gained 60.68 percent of the vote.
During earlier votes in Mitrovica for general Serbian parliamentary or presidential elections, usually the Radical Party gained most votes.

Fast forward to 2010: at the recent elections, the parties of the current government gained nearly 47 percent of their vote. The much reduced
SRS did not enter the municipal assembly and the support for the DSS dropped by 10 percent. Even the Serbian Progressive Party, the more moderate wing of the Radicals under the leadership of Tomislav Nikolic, gained only marginally more than than the government Democrats. In addition, both G17 and the new Socialdemocratic Party of Rasim Ljajic managed to gain seats.

While the position of the governing coalition regarding Kosovo do not fundamentally differ from the more radical parties, the government has
not supported the radical confrontation strategy in pursuing this policy as DSS or SRS did and reduced the financial incentives for obstructionism. The double moderation through the split of the SRS and the voters’ shift towards the governing coalition is thus highly significant for both Serbia and for Kosovo:

The significance for Serbia lies in the fact that nationalist policies and an intransigent position does not win a majority even in a ‘frontline’ city such as Mitrovica. It thus seems to underpin a larger shift toward more moderate politics in Serbia. The

importance for Kosovo arises from the bad performance of political elites that derived legitimacy for their radical agenda in the North, such as Milan Ivanovic whose group did not even enter the municipal assembly. Thus, the deputy minister for Kosovo in the Serbian government and head of the list “Serbia, Democracy and Justice” Oliver Ivanovic noted that the results would lead to a reduction of tensions in Mitrovica. This does is unlikely to immediately  allow for shift towards dialogue between Kosovo’s institution and the parallel structures. After the significant participation of Kosovo Serbs in Southern enclaves in Kosovo’s local elections in 2009,  this move towards moderation signals that new opportunities for more constructive relations between Serbs and the Kosovo institutions than just a few months ago.

2 Responses to Moderation in Mitrovica

  1. Brian Day says:

    Miroslav Filipovic, a Serbian journalist based in Kraljevo, wrote an interesting article for Bosnia Report in 2006, in which he considered the possible outcomes and consequences of Kosovo independence for Kosovo north, in particular Mitrovica.

    Interference from the Serbian government must cease. The parallel structures must be dismantled. However, can the Kosovo government guarantee the personal safety of Kosovo Serbs?

  2. Brian Day says:

    A change of heart and a brave admission that my opinion in my last reply was wrong.

    Whose agenda am I trying to push? I often say what I feel I should say.

    Serbian politicians must do what they feel is right for the whole of Serbia. The parallel structures should remain until Serbian interests in Kosovo are properly protected and fairly represented, and until the rule of law is firmly established.

    Kosovo never belonged to Serbia. Kosovo has always belonged to the people, the majority living in multi-ethnic towns and villages, where Serbs, Albanians, Goran, Roma and other ethnic groups formed loose political, economic and social structures. Hundreds of towns and villages lived independently of each other. See Ger Duijzings ‘Religion and the Politics of Identity in Kosovo’.

    Serbian and Albanian nationalists must be replaced in Kosovo. The moderate Albanian majority and the minority ethnic communities still in Kosovo must stand up to the nationalists.

    The ordinary people must send a message of reconciliation to Serbian refugees.

    The Hague must invest the same amount of time and resources restoring justice to Kosovo as it is doing with the Balkans Conflict.

    The hysteria of the interdnational community is to accept Kosovo independence. Why shouldn’t there be a return to the circumstances before the period of unrest?

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