By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
Sunday’s general elections in Serbia have been a true political earthquake with Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) achieving the best single party result since the 1990 triumph of Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) led at the time by Slobodan Milosevic. At the same time, the Parliament is now “free” from any Euro-skeptical political option.
In fact, SNS landslide victory has been even greater than SPS triumph owing to the fact that 1990 elections were held under a majority electoral system. SNS won 160 places in the National Assembly out of 250. In 1990, Socialists had gained 194.
Undoubtedly, the Progressives have scored a decisive victory due to the enormous popularity of its leader Aleksandar Vucic, who is current Deputy PM in the SPS president Ivica Dacic`s government. The anti-corruption fight of the government proclaimed by Vucic in 2012 resulted with the prosecution of a number of former ministers as well as the arrest of Forbes list millionaire tycoon Miroslav Miskovic at his peak. The fight against corruption was also SNS main motto during the electoral campaign.
Democratic Party (DS), the main opposition group, was targeted during the electoral campaign by SNS for the alleged links with tycoons. SNS has even claimed that Miskovic was “Miskovic`s candidate for Prime Minister”. In the months prior to voting, most of the media were siding with SNS on their own or under the “stimulation”. At the same time, scandals of the DS led government from 2007 to 2012 are still unresolved; some DS officials, including former ministers, are in prison, charged for corruption.
DS is certainly the biggest elections loser; in 2012 voting Democrats had gained 67 parliamentary seats and on Sunday they dropped to 19. Former DS leader and Serbian ex-President Boris Tadic has largely contributed to the party’s fiasco deciding to use his charisma and found his own party 45 days before the elections. Tadic`s newborn New Democratic Party (NDS) secured 18 Members of Parliament.
On Sunday, DS has also lost its majority in the Belgrade City Assembly with the majority having been overtaken by Progressives at the local elections.
Euro-skeptical Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) of the former PM Vojislav Kostunica is among the other big losers. For the first time since the party was founded in 1992 it did not reach the 5% threshold to enter the Parliament. Thus, the National Assembly is now “free” from opponents of the European path of Serbia. Ironically, Vesna Pesic, one of the most prominent opposition leaders during the 1990s Slobodan Milosevic authoritarian regime, has described electoral results as “a defeat of civic Serbia”; on the other hand, European media commented that Serbia turns towards Europe.
“The clear win of pro-European SNS”, German weekly “Spiegel” stated in its headline; “In full steam toward Europe”, daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported. Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Dimitris Kourkoulas, said that the results were “good news”. “Everything that contributes to the stability of the region is good”. On election night Russian and American ambassadors to Serbia came to SNS headquarters to congratulate Vucic.
“Brussels recognized the fact that Vucic has given up from his previous radical patriotic positions”, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported.
From mid 1990s to 2008 Aleksandar Vucic was secretary general of ultra nationalistic Serbian Radical Party (SRS) led by Vojislav Seselj. In Milosevic era he was Information Minister; during his term “disobedient” media were put on pressure and some of them forbidden under Draconian media law. In 2008 Vucic and current Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic have left both – Seselj has been put in detention at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia since 2003 and still is – along with his nationalistic rhetoric. Most of the party’s members followed them. Vucic and Nikolic subsequently founded Serbian Progressive Party.
Paradoxically, at the time when the popularity of the European Union drops throughout the continent, most of the Serbian citizens have “one hundred percents” embraced pro-European policy which includes, among other things, the normalization of the relations with Kosovo, territory which is Serbian autonomous province, under the Constitution. This normalization may be considered as gradual recognizing of Kosovo independence. Now, SNS may change the Constitution given the fact that the party nearly won the necessary two-third majority and has no opponents with regard to its pro-European position. On Monday, Philipp Missfelder, the official of German ruling CDU-CSU coalition, commented Serbian elections stressing “the clear commitment of the country to join EU”. Missfelder said that last year’s Brussels agreement on normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina “should lead to Kosovo’s recognition (by Serbia)”.
Thus, Serbia is led to Europe by a man who has striven – not too long ago – for alliance with Russia and Belorussia, as well as promoted general Ratko Mladic accused for genocide during Bosnian war and pleaded for Greater Serbia that should include Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and a major part of Croatia.