May 12, 2008
The pro-European political bloc lead by President Boris Tadic seem to have won a surprise victory in the Serbian elections. In the country’s national elections citizens on vote for party lists, and probably uniquely in Europe, all the seats are allocated proportionally. This system gives room for even small, regional parties of ethnic minorities, such as the Sandžak Bozniaks (2 deputies) or Hungarians in Northern-Serbia (4 deputies). Mr. Tadic’s winning For a European Serbia coalition can claim 103 seats, which is 23 short of a majority. The most likely outcome is a very long horse-trading between the seven mandate-winning groups.
The early election was called by Mr. Vojislav Koštunica, the prime minister, who declared that Serbia should choose between a European integration or fighting back Kosovo. His party came in third and may hold the balance in the hung parliament again. The Serbian Radical Party seems to trail behind the Mr.Tadic’s list by 8 per cent. Altough the elections was painted by the parties as ‘historical’ participation remained at 62,48% (This was the fourth time Serbian citizens voted in one and a half years). Although the parties claim the Kosovo belongs to Serbia, the Kosovar parties regard Kosovo independent and abstained from the vote. Though Mr. Tadic’s alliance scored well above the expectations, the clearly pro-Europe voters do not have a majority. The balance seems to be in the hands of the Socialist Party. Similar post-Communist parties played an important role in many Central European country’s transitions, but not this one. It’s first president died in prison waiting for a trial for war crimes.
A Hungarian weekly paper, Magyar Narancs has interviewed Mr. Zoran Lu?i?, an elections expert from CeSID, a pro-democracy NGO which also conducts in-depth polls and surveys in Serbia. (Here is the mandate estimation of CeSID in English). These deeper surveys seem to have underlined such trends that were overlooked by the media and short-term polling. For instance, only 40% of Serbian citizens polled by CeSID said that they would give up a prospective EU-membership for Kosovo, and only 20% said that they would give up some of their material welfare for this cause. Although 10% also said that they were ready to wage a war for the province, but almost none of these people were conscription-aged men. On the other hand, 70% would like to see Serbia as an EU member state (even NATO membership has a sizeable following) and some voters who had said to be voting the anti-EU camp intended to do see in order to give a mandate for tougher negotiations and better conditions for membership. (The interview is not yet available online).
The EU had seemed to slowly realize that its strategic goal is to win Balkan’s key state as an ally and eventually as a member state. The surprise victory was immeditaly hailed by Bruxelles. All eyes on the EU foreign policy: now that it had realized its strategic stake in Serbia just few weeks before the elections, it should also offer a detailed new policy towards Serbia and the Western Balkans that should be endorsed by all member states.
Sorry about the characters – the beta version of Blogactiv keeps loosing Central European modified Latin characters.Author : Dániel Antal