IBNA INTERVIEW / Branko Radun, political analyst
By Miloš Mitrović – Belgrade
“If all the parties of the Serbian ruling coalition would be satisfied by the government reshuffle, the early elections would not be called. If they could not reach the compromise, there would be the elections. However, Serbia is not completely independent state; the European Union green light is needed for the elections to be called”, Branko Radun, political analyst from Belgrade said in the interview for IBNA.
Radun explained that the reshuffle that would satisfy two main ruling parties – Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) – would be enough for the early elections to be avoided. The current government would “survive” if the reshuffle would not satisfy Mlađan Dinkić, the leader of the minor coalition partner United regions of Serbia (URS), but it would not subsist without the deal between SNS and SPS leaders Aleksandar Vučić and Ivica Dačić, Radun specified. “However, at this moment I do not expect the elections. The elections are not the priority for the coalition”.
Do you think that Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić – given the fact that he is the leader of the most powerful party – “harasses” his coalition partners, as sociologist and former politician Vesna Pešić suggested?
„I think that the observations by Vesna Pešić had always been biased. During the 2012 elections Vesna Pešić has lobbied SNS. Therefore, I believe that her “harassment” remark was the exaggeration. The SNS popularity among the voters had grown, and their legitimate right is to demand the changes in the government. They had requested reshuffle, rather than the elections. Hence, they had not “mobbed” their coalition partners, as Vesna Pešić stated. On the other hand, the pressure that Mlađan Dinkić had put on SNS and SPS smacked of blackmail. His URS is the minor coalition partner that has strong links with the international financial institutions. It seems to me both that Dinkić is motivated by political spite and that Prime Minister Dačić and Vučić have already made a deal.”
Could you predict what will the reshuffled government look like? Who will be the winners/losers?
„At this moment, the coalition partners – including Dačić and Vučić – cannot be assured which ministers will be sacked. However, I think both that the reshuffle will be favorable for Vučić and that his partners will demonstrate that they are not opposed to changes. Vučić`s partners do not want public to believe that they just want to preserve their positions in the government. Common people have an impression that Vučić is reformist and that his partners are opposing him”.
Do you believe that SNS would capitalize on its popularity in case that the early elections would be called?
“I am convinced that they would. After the 2012 elections, their popularity dramatically increased. Democratic Party (DS, former ruling party) won the second place; at this moment polls suggest that DS is third. The decline of DS and the SNS raise are of the great importance. The gap between them is too wide. Therefore, I am sure that in the case of the early elections Vučić would create government with one coalition partner. Likewise, Dačić would not be Prime Minister again.”
The government claims that the EU Council granted Serbia the date for the start of the accession talks, which is disputable. What is the influence of the Serbia-EU relations on the popularity of the government?
“Serbia-EU relations do not influence the government rating. Nevertheless, the DS monopoly over the European issues does not exist anymore. In that sense, there is nothing new that DS can offer. The European policy cannot affect the government popularity, but opposition parties – DS and Liberal-Democratic Party – are affected because they lost their European monopoly”.
Anti-Corruption fight – especially the arrest of tycoon Miroslav Mišković – is the main cause of the Vučić`s high popularity. However, Mišković was released from detention earlier this week. Do you think this will affect Vučić`s rating?
“I think that this would not be the plus point, neither the disadvantage for Vučić. Mišković spent more than seven months at the custody. The detention cannot last endlessly. At this moment, Mišković is the only winner. At the same time, the trial against Mišković would affect Vučić`s rating. If the trial would not be efficient, it would endanger Vučić`s image as the anti-corruption champion”.