IBNA / Interview: Not many Serbian politicians know what EU really is

IBNA / Interview: Not many Serbian politicians know what EU really is


By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade

“The party system in Serbia is getting more similar to the Western democracies party systems. At the same time, Serbian party system is neither stable nor consolidated yet”, Veran Stancetic, assistant professor at the Faculty of European legal and political studies, based in Novi Sad, said in the interview for IBNA. Stancetic specified that two leading parties in Serbia are conservative (moderate center-right) and social democrat (center-left) one, alike CDU and SPD in Germany, for instance.

“Both parties are acceptable in terms of democracy. Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is analogous to German CDU and it represents popular option which is also present in the European Union. SNS is still characterized by right-wing rhetoric, but this is mostly declarative. Democratic Party (DS), regardless of its internal problems ahead March early elections, represents social democrat option. These are two main groups followed by several smaller such as Euro-skeptical Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) lead by former PM Vojislav Kostunica and Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) and other groups which will try to secure threshold at the elections. Having all this in mind, Serbian party system is really comparable with those in Western Europe”, Stancetic explained.

Serbian voters are often confused because it seems that all coalitions are at the table. For example, there are speculations that next government may be lead by SNS and Liberals.

“Everything is possible. The coalitions among some parties that have been unimaginable in recent years are now quite realistic. However, when their programs and principles are compared it is clear that any party can make coalition with all the others, with exception of several small groups. But it is interesting that similar scenarios are possible in other European countries”.

Isn’t it cynical? If all coalitions are possible it seems that all parties have one single objective – to gain the power at any price.

„You are somewhat right. Nevertheless, this is about a phenomenon which is known in theory as moderate multi party system. In practice, this means that there are several parties with differences that are not so huge to prevent them from creating coalition. The bad news in such situation is that voter does not have true choice. After elections are over, only minor changes occur and the most of the officials keep their positions or being moved to similar ones. This is called democracy deficit. However, this is global problem”.

DS claims that Serbia is heading toward autocracy with all power being “grabbed by one man”, namely SNS leader Aleksandar Vucic who is current Deputy Prime Minister and, according to the polls, next PM. How would you comment this?

„These are usual processes in all Serbian parties that are ruling in certain period. Nonetheless, this environment is pretty inclined toward authoritarian political culture and one man cannot make himself that powerful as people around him can make him such.”

Including media?

„Including media, journalists, editors, experts and many others“.

Still, can we expect dramatic authoritarian changes in Serbia?

„I believe this will not happen so soon owing to the fact that SNS was not that long in power to be so compromised. Voters are not frustrated to extend they would opt for totally alternative political options. However, this will be imaginable in some further elections, maybe in four or five years, because it seems that living standard in Serbia will not be improved in the meantime. I am afraid that the current government, as well as the alternative one, is not able to conduct public policies; many problems will not be resolved except more general ones such as Kosovo issue. For example, there are not many politicians that are aware what European Union means in practice. And EU is all about agricultural policy, regional policy and it gives us a chance to sell our products at its market. But only symbolical efforts have been done in order our institutional structure for agricultural policy and regional development policy to be created.”