IBNA/Interview: Vucic partially achieves his electoral goals

IBNA/Interview: Vucic partially achieves his electoral goals

By Milos Mitrovic

If Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic didn’t call for early elections, it would be questionable whether he would remain in power after 2018. But now, after elections were held on April 24 and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won, he will remain in power until 2020 trouble-free, Veran Stancetic, lecturer at the Faculty of Political Sciences in Belgrade, says in an interview for IBNA.

Did Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic fulfill his goals by calling for early elections? His coalition lost 25 MPs in Parliament and a number of opposition groups have passed the threshold which was, in his words, “strange”.

“Vucic has partially achieved his objectives. Namely, if elections were called in time – which means in two years from now – the scores of his coalition would be worse. He succeeded to secure another four years term by calling snap elections. If he didn’t do it, it would be questionable whether he would remain in power after 2018. But now, he would remain until 2020 trouble-free. In the meantime, some “big stories” such as formal accession to the EU may disguise the failures in internal politics.

Still, the price of this move for Vucic is that more opposition groups entered Parliament. If Seselj’s radicals became the main and, if possible, the only opposition group in Parliament, SNS would completely fulfill its objectives. In such an situation even poor results of SNS government for both the majority of people in Serbia and international community would be a better solution than radicals who are ridiculous, but not politically insignificant. But now, Vucic may praise himself as a democrat who has helped parliament to become more representative”.

In your opinion, will the coalition around SNS create the new government alone or will it seek partners?

“It was, to some extent, unusual when Vucic’ decided after 2014 elections to form the government with Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) despite the fact that SNS had absolute majority in Parliament. It’s even more bizarre that the relationship between these two parties deteriorated in recent months, while some officials waged the open war against each other. As the two leaders of this parties did not explicitly exchange words, we can only speculate whether we, actually, had the conflict between two of them through the statements of their party colleagues.

The current situation is not favorable for SNS. Again, they have absolute majority, but also a dilemma. If they choose SPS to be their partner, this would enable them to hide under the pelerine of their commitment to democracy; SPS may also be blamed for possible failures of the government. However, the appetite of SNS membership has grown in the meantime; they would rather rule alone than share the power with SPS. If such strivings prevail, all parties in Parliament would be the opposition to SNS. But I think that Vucic would chose different option, less harmful and with more long term benefits – which is coalition with SPS… if they manage to make a deal”.

The Democratic Party (DS) has lost the majority in regional elections in Vojvodina and merely passed a threshold in general elections. But DS leader Bojan Pajtic says he was satisfied. How would you comment that?

“In recent months and even years DS was preoccupied with itself and internal arguments. They haven’t worked on a new party program, new image, and the most important – on creating the new elite. Despite the fact that it exists since the multi-party system was reintroduced, this party, or more specific, its cadres – and this is also the case with other parties – still suffer from ‘childhood illnesses’. When we take all of this into account as well as the results of DS rule until 2012, I think that Pajtic has reasons to be satisfied with the amount of the votes DS has gained”.

The movement “It was enough” led by Sasa Radulovic has made great success by becoming Parliamentary group. How would you define its ideological profile and how do you see its future role?

“I believe this is an authentic group which originates from the people that have gathered around the idea. They haven’t existed as political party nor they have party infrastructure, functional mechanisms of safe votes etc. If ‘childhood illnesses’ doesn’t hit them, this movement would have an opportunity to attract the larger part of civic energy and become an alternative to Vucic.

Considering ‘It was enough’, it’s not just about opposing Vucic, but also about the ideological profile which, in my opinion, does not exists in Serbia while it’s mainstream in Europe. Namely, SNS declares itself as people’s party or center right party, but I think that SNS, actually, has no ideology. All other parties, with the exemption of far right and nationalistic groups, are leftists – social-democratic or socialist. What Radulovic represents would be defined in the most of Europe as conservatism in terms of economy and organization, although it’s not a typical conservative movement because it has some welfare state elements such as free health insurance or social protection of the families without earnings. I would say that this concept is close to social market economy and I think this ideology may be a remedy for many social diseases in Serbia”.

Foreign media stress the fact that Radicals are back in Parliament. Do you think that “ultra-nationalist” Seselj will be opposed to “pro-European” Vucic?

“Seselj’s Radicals – or to be more specific – Seselj himself, because Radicals practically don’t exist without Seselj, are a professional opposition. They will be opposition to Vucic but also to opposition, to all other groups in Parliament. Considering anti-European opposition to Vucic I think that coalition Democratic Party of Serbia-Dveri would play a more serious role because they are gathered around the set of ideas, rather than around a single loud ‘anti’ leader”.