One Socialist party less in the Balkans: Dodik and the Socialist International part ways

After five years membership in the Socialist International, the Alliance of Independent Socialdemocrats of Milorad Dodik has been suspended at a meeting of the SI council in Athens. The suspension was for nationalism and extremist positions of the party.  The SNSD was only admitted in January 2006, just as it took over power in the RS. Considering the nationalist rhetoric of the party since the elections in 2006, the suspension is long overdue.The long wait was probable due to the (false) hope that the SNSD might return to more moderate policies. There has been no indication of this and there has long been nothing social democratic in its policies.

In response to the suspension Dodik announced that the SNSD would preempt its own exclusion by leaving the Socialist International. In explaining his move, he noted that there was no use to being part of the SI and that is members were responsible for the global crisis. Instead, he was moving to establish closer ties with United Russia the dominant party in the Russian Federation. This seems indeed like a much more appropriate match for Dodik’s SNSD: a party without any platform which provides for the support of the leader and is happy to dominate with undemocratic practices.

The suspension also puts an end to the curious situation that the key stumbling block to the formation of the Bosnian government has been the difficult relationship between two members of the SI: the SNSD and the SDP of Zlatko Lagumdzija. It also suggest that the SI was unable to make retaining membership sufficiently attractive to moderate Dodik’s policies–in contrast to Serbia where granting the Socialist Party (SPS) observer status in 2008 helped usher in the DS-SPS coalition government. Over recent years, Socialist parties and foundations have maintained low-level contact with the SNSD in the hope to shape the rank and file of the party. The exclusion from the Socialist International would probably mean that also those contacts would decrease (although this is up to the discretion of the individual parties and foundations). Considering the rhetoric and policies of the SNSD there is little indication that this affiliation had a moderating effect on the party.


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