Collapse? No President for Serbia

The second round of presidential elections failed in Serbia. Majority of voters ignored both candidates of the second round, incumbent Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Vice-Premier Miroljub Labus. Only 2,99 million voters (45,5%) of the total number of 6,5 million came to the election stations on Sunday. Thus, the minimum 50% limit necessary for successful elections wasn’t get over.

According to Belgrade’s Center for Free Elections and Democracy,  the voters who came to the election stations voted the following way: 66,7% voted for Kostunica, 31,3% for Labus, 2,3% of voting papers were declared invalid. And Serbs are to start from very beginning once again and propose new candidates.

It seems that the situation is favorable for the pro-Serbian patriotic powers, to Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj for instance. Before the first round of elections, ex-president of Yugoslavia and Serbian Socialist Party leader Slobodan Milosevic, being at the Hague Tribunal, appealed to his followers to vote for Seselj. But Seselj failed to enter the second round of elections from the first. Unfortunately, dissociation of Yugoslavia’s pro-western forces (and not only in Yugoslavia by the way) is one of their main problems. Let’s remember the collision when Milosevic appealed to vote for the single candidate from the opposition, for Seselj, but members of his Serbian Socialist Party ignored the leader’s appeal and at the same time propose other candidates. Another problem is inability to suggest an effective alternative to the line followed by the ruling Serbian Democratic Opposition; the alternative which could be supported by majority of the population.

Majority of Serbs currently lay their hopes on  the line designed for “all possible coming together with the West and NATO” (in fact, the line supposes that the republic will fall under an almost complete political, economic, financial, etc. control from abroad). In  this case it is believed that if nothing extraordinary happens, either Labus or Kostunica will employ all extra resources to win necessary amount of votes in the second try.  

The Doctor of History Sciences, director of the Center for Studies of the Current Balkan Crisis in Russia’s Academy of Sciences, Yelena Guskova thinks that Labus and Kostunica represent two concepts: “remains of patriotism” and “anti-national liberalism”. “Labus is an official representatives of “a group of people”, but in fact he is backed by Serbian Premier-Minister Zoran Djindjic, his Democratic Party and majority of the ruling coalition of the Serbian Democratic Opposition. Kostunica keeps away from Djindjic and his followers; doing so he splits the ruling political elite. Under conditions of political chaos, Kostunica still insists on the necessity of establishing a social dialogue, on legal state, on the importance of preservation of the united state of Serbia and Montenegro. He resorts to national feelings revealing his concern about the life of Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo. If Kostunica wins, it is very likely that the parliament will be dissolved and new elections to the legislative body should be scheduled. In  this case, office of the government headed by Djindjic automatically ceases. Labus, in his turn, insists that economic reforms should be continued. If he wins, liberal reforms will be activated, the process of coming together with the European Union and NATO will continue. It is perfectly clear that the two concepts, which mismatch the traditional ideological schemes, came into collision at the presidential elections. The concepts can be conditionally called “remains of patriotism” and “anti-national liberalism.” As traditional, there is no third power in Serbia. Vojislav Seselj or the left forces could have become the third power, but their camp has split as well.”

ITAR-TASS reminds that a five-year mandate of incumbent Serbian President Milan Milutinovic expires on January 5, 2003. Are new elections to be held before the date? It is a rhetorical question so  far, as the legislation doesn’t say when new elections are to be held if the first voting concerning the presidential candidature fails. It is not ruled out that Speaker of the Serbian parliament Natasha Micic will become an acting president starting with January 5, 2003. According to the legislation, she is to fix the date new presidential elections within six months since the appointment.

Sergey Stefanov

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Author`s name Michael Simpson