IBNA Interview: Zoran Babić, SNS Parliamentary Club President
By Miloš Mitrović – Belgrade
According to results of the survey conducted by Faktor plus agency, which had been published earlier this week, approximately 60 percent of citizens would support the early elections in Serbia to be called. However, representatives of the ruling Progressives (SNS) say that the early elections would stop Serbian efforts with regard to accession negotiations with European Union. In the interview for IBNA Zoran Babić, SNS Parliamentary Club President, reiterated the position of his party.
“SNS`s position since the government reshuffle in August until today has not been changed; at this moment, elections would stop the reforms. On the other hand, Progressives would not avoid the voting whenever it would be called. We would accept the people’s will whatever it would be as well. Nonetheless, I repeat that SNS`s priorities are reforms, negotiations with Priština and unemployment rate reducing. According to latest data, unemployment rate is 24.1 percent, which is unacceptable. As Deputy Prime Minister and SNS leader Aleksandar Vučić said, it should be reduced to less than 20 percent. However, if opposition or some government members believe that elections are needed, we are ready”, Zoran Babić explained.
SNS won the 2012 general elections, but Socialist Party of Serbia took the Prime Minister position as it was stipulated in the coalition agreement. All polls since then suggested that SNS was the highest ranking party in Serbia. Aleksandar Vučić is also leading in the polls; according to the latest surveys, approximately 70 percent of Serbian citizens would prefer Vučić to be the next Prime Minister.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ivica Dačić reiterated the statement by Vučić that “elections will be called if that will be the atmosphere among the citizens“. How would you asses such an atmosphere?
“This atmosphere could be created by organizing the petition for an early elections calling, as it has been the case in the past. From our point of view, such an initiative would be acceptable articulation of popular discontent. However, given the fact that opposition – or more precisely Democratic Party – cannot articulate its own positions at its Central Committee session, how can one expect they would articulate popular will for elections?. But we were not born to govern and we are ready for elections”.
Still, do you believe that SNS should take the PM position, since it is the most popular party?
“I do share the positions expressed by my party colleagues, such as Parliament Speaker Nebojša Stefanović and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlović; Aleksandar Vučić could optimally face the challenges that PM position require. This is the stance of SNS and the majority of citizens as well. The good ratings of Progressives are based on courageous political decisions which have been done, rather than on our assumed populism. We certainly wish Vučić to become Prime Minister.”
How would you comment the statement by United Regions of Serbia leader and Progressives former coalition partner Mlađan Dinkić that general elections would be called in early 2014, at the same time with local elections in Belgrade?
“I think Dinkić should answer to that question. Local electoral agenda for Belgrade is clear; after the provisional authority term come to an end later this month, new elections will be called. The priority for SNS was to put an end to enormous indebtedness in the City of Belgrade (by sacking the Democratic mayor Dragan Đilas in September). I do not know whether the general elections would be held at the same time”.
SNS failed to form the new ruling coalition in the Belgrade City Assembly after Dragan Đilas has been dismissed. If this had been the case, would it be more acceptable than the elections?
“I repeat, the priority was to stop the indebtedness and devastation in Belgrade City by leaking the money as it was the case by engaging the private company in public transport. This is just one example. Our priority is not to grab all the power for us, and it would not be our priority in the next 15 or 20 years.”
Do you predict that SNS would rule in Serbia during the next 20 years?
“SNS would be the leading Serbian party for decades. Neither major political project would be feasible without the SNS dominant role. When SNS was founded five years ago, the basis for an pro-European and pro-Serbian party had been established. The citizens accepted us and gave us the major support”.
The main argument for the recent Belgrade Pride Parade banning was that someone would have die. Despite the violence against the people which take part in Pride Parade, nobody have been killed during the previous manifestations. Hence, does the presumption of life losses mean that the security situation in Serbia deteriorated?
“There’s always first time. The decision of banning the Parade had been made by responsible people, despite the critics both from Serbia and from the international community. Security assessments suggested that the violence would occur if the Parade would have been held. I believe that organizing the Parade and protecting it with tanks and thousands of policemen would not be the good news. The Parade should be accepted in society as an expression of the right to be different. As a family man, I don’t think that the values which Pride Parades offer are good. However, this people have a right – guaranteed by Constitution – to organize the Parade.”