The non-historical elections in Serbia
April 30, 2012 3 Comments
For once, elections in Serbia will not be a historical crossroads during next Sundays elections. News reports over the past decade have termed all parliamentary and presidential elections as historical: they were in 2003 over the success of DOS in the aftermath of the overthrow of Milosevic, in 2007 and 2008 the Kosovo issue raised the spectre of a take-over by the radicals. The elections this year are historical for Serbia only for not being historical. For the first time since the introduction of multiparty elections in 1990, it will matter not that much which of the two largest parties wins the elections.
There is no doubt that Tomislav Nikolic and many from the “Progressive” Party (SNS) have an unsavory past with the Radicals and their statements and policies during their previous life are hard to accept, but they stated goals differs only marginally from the Democratic Party. Of course, one can doubt their committment the EU integration and liberal policies or, more importantly, their competence, but there is little doubt that the battleground in Serbia has shifted towards the centre. Already in 2003 and 2007 the Radicals became the largest party less for their extreme nationalist positions, but rather for their social populism.Today, the is little appeite among either the electorate or the SNS to challenge the consensus that has emerged in Serbian politics over EU integration, reform and a rhetorical committment to Kosovo.
Latest opinion polls seem to suggest that the SNS might be narrowly defeated by the Democrats. Even if this is not the case, they will have a hard time to form a government, having a much more limited choice of potential coalition partners: both the Radicals and Kostunica would take the SNS away from its desired international rehabilitation and make any progress in terms of EU integration impossible, leaving the SNS only the coalition around the Socialist Party of Ivica Dacic as a significant partner. The DS can count on the popularity of Boris Tadic and three partners tipped to enter parliament, the liberal reformist LDP, the eternal governing party (since 2000) G17 now called United Regions of Serbia (in cooperation with some local strongmen) and the Socialist Party.
Thus, the elections seem to point towards a continuation of the current government with some reconfiguration among the coalition partners–and even if this were not the case, Serbia has moved towards a political system that is far from perfect, but fear that every election is a juncture between EU and abyss is no longer justified.