Update No: 132 - (01/06/08)
Inconclusive result to parliamentary elections
Serbia is at the crossroads all right, which means so are the Balkans. All eyes
in the region are on Belgrade.
The final vote count in Serbia's divisive parliamentary election, held on May11,
confirmed on May 21 that pro-European parties won the most seats in the future
legislature, but not enough to govern alone. The nationalists, indeed, hold the
balance; and the latest news is that the three nationalist parties have come to
an agreement to keep out the largest party from government.
The final results released by state election authorities showed President Boris
Tadic's reformist group, For a European Serbia, won 102 seats in the 250-member
parliament. The far-right Radical Party won 78 seats, and nationalist Prime
Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Popular Coalition won 30, the results showed.
A simple majority of 126 seats is needed to form a government. To reach that
target, either side will need the support of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialists and their 20 lawmakers. The Socialists have negotiated with both
Tadic and the two nationalist parties, but have not yet chosen sides. The party
has suggested it might form a coalition with the nationalists in the city of
Belgrade, but team up with Tadic to form a national government.
Tadic has said the Socialists were an "acceptable" partner. Tadic can
count on the support of the staunchly pro-Western Liberal Democratic Party and
its 13 deputies, as well as four ethnic Hungarian lawmakers.
Negotiations among Serbia's key political players since the May 11 elections
have yet to determine whether the country will be governed by the reformists or
their nationalist rivals. The two nationalist parties that came in second and
third in the voting have sought to team up to counter the election gains of
Tadic's For a European Serbia alliance. Tadic advocates Serbian membership in
the European Union.
Kosovo – the sticking point
Kosovo continues to bedevel Serbian politics. The Battle of the Field of
Blackbirds in 1389, otherwise known as the Battle of Kosovo, which led to
centuries of subjection to the Ottomans, still haunts the Serb nation. It is
unique for a country to be so fixated on a defeat. Kosovo, although inhabited
90% by Albanians, is forever Serb for the nationalists.
They want to drop the country's entry bid because many EU nations have
recognized the independence of Kosovo — Serbia's historical heartland, which
is now dominated by separatist ethnic Albanians. Kosovo declared independence
from Serbia in February, winning quick recognition by the United States and its
key EU allies.
Under Milosevic, the Socialists were blamed for inciting four wars in the
Balkans in the 1990s. But the party has since sought to portray itself as a
modern leftist group.
EU officials have said they would support any pro-European government in Serbia.
They fear that a nationalist government, with a hankering for Kosovo, would
destabilize the region.
Parties agree on new coalition
Three Serbian nationalist parties have, indeed, in one report agreed to form a
coalition government in the capital Belgrade that may oust president Boris
Tadic’s pro-European coalition from power. Outgoing prime minister Vojislav
Kostunica said his Democratic Party of Serbia had secured a deal with the leader
of the Serbian Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolic, and Ivica Dacic of the Socialist
Party of Serbia to form a joint coalition.
Belgrade is considered the third largest stronghold in the country and the three
leaders said they would continue talks for a coalition at a national level. The
deal, if it holds up, would practically sideline president Boris Tadic for the
first time since former socialist strongman Slobodan Milosevic was toppled from
power in October 2000.
Kostunica ran a poor third, but was in a position to form a majority with
Nikolic and Dacic in parliament, as well as in Belgrade and other
Tadic jubilantly proclaimed victory on election night, but has tried to lure the
socialists to support him ever since in an effort to form a coalition. The
problem is that Tadic’s democrats have for years accused the socialists of
starting the Balkan wars a decade ago and for leading the country into
international isolation. His recent overtures to Dacic have been met with scorn
from most commentators, nationalists and even within his party.
The outgoing governing coalition between Kostunica and Tadic collapsed in
February after majority ethnic Albanians declared Kosovo independence with the
support of western powers and most European Union countries.
Kostunica, Nikolic and Dacic say Serbia should proceed with EU membership with
Kosovo as an integral part, whereas Tadic insists the country should join the EU
regardless of Kosovo's fate.