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Serbia Elects New Parliament

A first analysis of the outcome

, by Aleksandar Antić

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Serbia held its first parliamentary elections as an independent state. Elections took place on January 21st and the results were more or less expected. The new Serbian Parliament will consist of 6 political parties and coalitions (SRS, DS, DSS-NS, G17, SPS and LDP) as well as 8 representatives of national minorities (Hungarians, Bosniaks, Roma and Albanians).

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Similar to the last elections, these elections were won by the ultra-national Serbian Radical Party (Srpska radikalna stranka - SRS), winning close to 30 % of the votes, whose President Vojislav Šešelj is currently being trialed at the Yugoslav War Crime Tribunal in The Hague. Fortunately, they will not be able to form the government since they have no relations with other political parties and are unable to form the majority in the Serbian Parliament. They won 81 seats (out of 250).

Second place belongs to the Democratic Party (Demokratska stranka - DS), lead by the Serbian President Boris Tadić (64 seats). They made the biggest leap from the last elections (2003) and managed to strengthen their position as the top pro-European political party in Serbia. This fact is connected with the personal authority of the Serbian President Boris Tadić. DS used the name of their former leader, the assassinated Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Đinđić, in their pre-election campaign and his wife Ružica Đinđić was the first on their election list. Their candidate for future Prime Minister is one of the greatest Serbian macroeconomists today, Božidar Đelić.

Third place went to the Democratic Party of Serbia (Demokratska stranka Srbije - DSS) of the current Prime Minister of Serbia Vojislav Koštunica, in coalition with New Serbia (Nova Srbija - NS)lead by the current Minister of Capital Investments Velimir Ilić (47 seats). Koštunica is the man who won the elections against Slobodan Milošević in the year 2000 but his political strength has been slowly diminishing ever since. He has aspirations of retaining his job as Prime Minister in the new Government which is the greatest problem for its constitution at the moment.

The liberal conservative party G17 Plus, also known as the party of economic experts, lead by the current Minister of Finances Mlađan Dinkić, got 19 seats. In their campaign they talked about a single digit inflation, increasing the strength of the Serbian currency, the DINAR, and the much needed economic reforms of the country.

According to the public opinion that the last three mentioned parties (DS, DSS-.NS and G17 Plus, along with the MPs of national minorities), are most likely to form a new government, since they have 131 seats and thus majority in the parliament. Together with the minorities the new government would have 138 seats (out of the total number of 250).

The fourth pro-European party is a coalition gathered around the Liberal Democratic Party, lead by Čedomir Jovanović, a young politician and former associate of Zoran Đinđić. These are their first election which is why public opinion considers their entrance into the Parliament, after making the 5% census, to be a great success. This coalition, however, does not wish to enter the government since they prefer being an opposition in the parliament. They have some ‘radical’ political positions such as the independence of Kosovo, they were against the Serbian Constitution, but are considered to be a pro-urban party and enjoy great support among the young population.

Finally, the last party to overcome the 5% hurdle for entering the Parliament is the Socialistic Party of Serbia, formerly lead by Slobodan Milošević. It is interesting that the Socialistic Party never mentioned the name of Milošević in their campaign, which can be considered as a surprise and as the beginning of a new political period for this party.

Speaking of minorities, they did not need to reach the 5% census in order to enter the Parliament. Nevertheless, they needed around 15.000 votes for each representative. The Hungarian Party will have three representatives, the Bosniak Democratic Party of Sandžak two; both Roma citizens Parties got a seat each, as well as the Party of Albanians from south Serbia. All of them are expected to participate in the future Serbian Government.

Possible Future Coalitions

1. Democratic Government: Democratic Party (DS) + Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) + G17 Plus + national minorities = 138

This is the most optimistic combination, which will surely keep Serbia on the path towards EU. Problematic, however, is the conflict between DS and DSS leaders about the Prime Minister position.

2. Government of all Democratic Parties: Democratic Party (DS) + Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) + G17 Plus + Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) + national minorities = 153

This combination would theoretically be more stabile, but is out of option due to the conflict of positions and opinions between LDP and DSS. In their pre-election campaign both parties excluded this possibility.

3. Right-wing Government: Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) + Serbian Radical Party (SRS) (+ Socialistic Party of Serbia (SPS)) = 128 (144)

Not a likely combination since DSS is expected not to join a party that participated in Serbian Governments in the period of Milosevic. This idea is bad for Serbia since EU would hardly accept this Government.

4. Government without 50% majority: Democratic Party (DS) + G17 Plus + national minorities = 91 (+ support of Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) without contribution in the Government = 138)

In conclusion, according to the Serbian Constitution, a new Government has to be formed the latest 3 months after the official results of elections, and I strongly believe that Serbian politicians will put personal disputes aside and continue their work towards a United Europe in one big, pro-European, democratic coalition.

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P.S.

Images:

- President Tadić and co. celebrating good election results; source:Mondo web portal

- diagram prepared by the author

Further reading:

- Serbian parliamentary election, 2007: analysis from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

- ’Serbia’s chance’ editorial comment in Financial Times

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