By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
“The voters are wise, they vote for us because they trust us and because we are both saying the truth and doing what we have promised”, Goran Knezevic, Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) vice president said in the interview for IBNA. According to most of the polls, SNS will win the absolute majority on Sunday’s early elections.
How do you comment the electoral campaign? The results of some surveys indicated unequal status of the parties in the media covering due to SNS domination as the ruling party and self-censorship.
“First of all, I have to rebuff the ungrounded rumors, which suggest that SNS controls the media, although you have not mentioned the source and the period these surveys has covered. Maybe one may think this is truth, if the media chaos created by the former government has been forgotten. Verica Barac ( the late president of the Anti-corruption Council) documented this very minutely in her 2011 report. SNS has conceptualized its campaign as if we did not have rivals, and we don’t have indeed. We only promote our policy, we are not dealing with others. Many SNS activists, of course, talk to citizens about both our agenda once we become government and which concrete achievements they may realize in their lives if they vote for us and if we win. We have good relations with the media, we respect them and we do not put any pressure on them. I would refrain from commenting the auto-censorship. We do not have any plans to confront with “disobedient” media after the elections. We do not divide media between “good” and bad ones.”
SNS has promised unpopular measures, including austerity and the huge public sector reform. However, according to the polls most of the citizens support the Progressives. How do you explain this?
“The honesty and commitment are the most appreciated values among Serbian voters. Serbian people are wise, honest and hardworking but have been living under difficult conditions for years. Nonetheless, it is certain that people recognize the worthless demagogy and propaganda. What do you think, how many votes would we gain if we have made milk and honey promises, just like those who have been offering the impossible? The voters are wise, they vote for us because they trust us and because we are both saying the truth and doing what we have promised.”
Mr. Knezevic, you used to be Democratic party (DS) high official. Today, it’s the 11th anniversary of DS leader and former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic`s assassination. Who are Djindjic`s political successors at this moment?
“I have the impression that we are witnessing a shameless misuse of the late PM Djindjic`s name. Honestly, I cannot recognize the spirit of the reforms, the energy and the commitment of the late PM among the former Democrats. It is obvious that they don’t have a true successor. They are bad copies who are hiding behind Djindjic`s image. And this is regrettable.”
SNS claims that some opposition parties are controlled by tycoon Miroslav Miskovic, and even that he is their candidate for PM post. What are the grounds for such claims?
“I don’t know whether somebody has said something like this, but I can reformulate your question: may tycoons have their candidate for the Prime Minister position? Or even better: do the powerful people who got rich, under suspicious circumstances, in Slobodan Milosevic era have reasons to be afraid that the rule of law will be established in Serbia and that the corruption will not be tolerated? Such persons probably strive towards the same objective, which is to preserve status quo. They are probably thinking over who may be their best representative in the government”.
How would you comment the accusations of opposition and some intellectuals that all the power are getting concentrated in the hands of SNS leader and Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic?
“Your question would be very courageous if you have been posed it to somebody else, in some other countries. For instance, is it truth that all the power in United States – or Russia, France, Great Britain – is concentrated in the hands of one man? Someone else would feel insulted when asked something like this. In my opinion, it is not truth that all the power in Serbia is in the hands of Deputy PM. Serbia has – just to remind you – its President, Prime Minister, the Government and the Parliament. I would not like to diminish the authority of this institutions by this question. However, if I take your question as the benevolent one, and if you ask me whether Aleksandar Vucic will have more power after the elections, I can accept this and say that all of us from SNS hope for such an scenario. To be more precise, we hope for an absolute win, which is a clear majority in the Parliament; this will enable us to create the government without the preconditions by tycoons and other possible blackmailers. SNS wants a stable government and we are ready to struggle for Serbia to become the country led by courageous and responsible people. Thus, it will be unequivocally clear who bears the responsibility for the situation in the society and we are ready to accept this risk. We are not afraid in front of the challenges because we want to last at the political scene with as wide support as possible. And one more thing: I think it is certainly better if the power is in the institutions, even in the Aleksandar Vucic`s hands, as you say, rather than dispersed among 18 coalition leaders as it was the case in the past”.