In Serbia il dibattito sulle elezioni è uno dei temi principali. La lotta all'interno dei 18 partiti della coalizione DOS si fa serrata e molti analisti sostengono che la situazione potrebbe essere risolta solo con l'anticipazione delle elezioni.
In the near future, elections are foreseen on a number of levels. The Serbian Presidential elections are most likely to happen at the end of the year. These elections open up a number of relevant political issues. First, the current president of Serbia, Milan Milutinovic, one of Milosevic's former aides and also a Hague indictee, is widely seen as an obedient puppet in the hands of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Milutinovic was the former Yugoslav ambassador in Greece and Foreign Minister and is known for the expulsion of some dissident 'liberal' professors from Belgrade University in the early 70's. He became Serbian President when Milosevic decided to become Federal President and to appoint one of his undaring associates to the former position. Before October 2000, Milutinovic was not at the center of the political scene, this happened only after the revolution when he started acting as an intermediary between the former and the new regime. Marked as 'cooperative', he was left alone by Djindjic ever since. Djindjic repeatedly refused to extradite him to the Hague sustaining that Milutinovic benefits from "presidential immunity" and it remains unclear whether he will go to Holland even after his term in office ends. However, Milutinovic's term ends in September and elections need to be organized before that.
Under the current constitution (which will soon be changed), Serbia has a very strong presidential system. For instance, it requires a 2/3 majority in the Parliament of Serbia and a 50%+1 majority of the total voters at a referendum in order to change the president before the end of the term. Needless to say, this was decided so that it would be very difficult to replace Milosevic.
Nowadays many seem to be longing for this position. Smaller parties, such as the right-wing Radicals (SRS) - former leaders of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) and their splinter People's Party 'Justice' - have already announced that their presidents (Seselj, Draskovic, Borovic) will candidate. Last year, Velja Ilic - former SPO official, now leader of the traditionalist New Serbia Party and successful mayor of Cacak - announced that he would run for the Serbian Presidency. This idea was dismissed by most of DOS. However, recently, there was some friction between Djindjic and Ilic.
The most serious candidate-to-be is Miroljub Labus - once vice-president of the Democratic Party and Federal MP, today vicepresident of the Federal Government in charge of finance and economy. Labus is a top expert of economy and one of the most respected Serbian professionals in international financial institutions. He seems rather reluctant to accept this position, and so far his statements were more than cautious. Opinion polls say he would win outright, since his popularity in Serbia is immense. However, he has not yet decided. These elections are getting closer, but, so far, no one seems to have shown their real intention. The second group of elections are the local and federal ones, which so many believe will take place together as in the last ten years.
Current local authorities were elected in accordance to a law which is seen as the biggest SPS mistake ever. Towards the end of the former period, SPS passed a Law on Local Self Government according to which a single-round proportional system was introduced - meaning, you vote for the party, rather than the individual (very strange for small local communities, where a voter knows his or her local MP from his neighbourhood) and there is no runoff - the party or coalition which gets majority of votes gets the seat in the local assembly. The seats were intended for SPS, since they expected the opposition to be disjointed in October 2000. However, the DOS were united and swept away all other coalitions and parties, and due to the electoral system, got an overwhelming majority of seats in almost all municipalities. In Nis, DOS has 50 seats out of 62. The situation is similar in other towns. The overall impression one has is that there is no opposition, a problem which needs to be addressed. This is one of the reasons why local elections will be organized in accordance with a new electoral system (probably majority vote for an individual, rather than the party). Another reason is the Law on Local Self Government which has been recently adopted and which introduced serious changes to the local political systems, such as more autonomy, the posts of real, people-elected Mayors etc. At Federal level, the situation is confused. Two opposing Montenegrin political blocks cannot agree on any decision about the future state of Serbia and Montenegro.
The Montenegrin Socialist People's Party blocked the adoption of a common basis of agreement the Federal Parliament and no one knows when the document will be adopted. This document will enable the expert committees to start their work on the Constitutional Treaty, which will then define the exact institutional shape of the future country - elections included.
Today, the ruling Montenegrin Democratic Socialists of President Milo Djukanovic (DPS) demand a Federal Assembly whose MPs will be simple delegates appointed by Serbian and Montenegrin Parliaments. Their opposition SNP, and most of Serbian parties, as well as the European Union, demand that elections for the Federal Assembly be direct. The common dispute is that there is no country today where elections are not direct. Moreover, even in the European Union, MPs for the European Parliament are elected at general elections and not appointed by member-state assemblies. However, the now ruling Montenegrin coalition for independency remains adamant, and right now no one knows how long it will take to find a common solution and thus whether there will be any real Federal elections by the end of this year. The EU is in favour of new elections and Serbia has nothing against them, but in Montenegro the situation is still tricky. The issues of the makeup of the future Federal Parliament are still open, as, for instance, the idea to have only one house, with eventual mechanisms for the protection of Montenegro as a minority member of the union.
Finally, the real power in this country has always lied in the Republic Assemblies. Therefore, the issue of elections for the Serbian Parliament remains crucial. Whatever coalition was in power, elections have always been postponed as long as possible and federal or local elections have always been used as a test of popularity. On the other hand, the opposition has always demanded early Serbian elections. This is the situation today.
The DOS's majority in the Assembly is overwhelming. DOS coalition has 178 out of 250 MPs. However, DOS is not as strong as it used to be. Without president Kostunica's DSS, acting as opposition to the present Djindjic Cabinet, the majority has 131 MPs, dangerously close to the minimum margin of 125. Even more so, after some smaller groups, such as Social Democracy, New Serbia or Demo Christian Party of Serbia decided a few months ago to form their own independent groups of representatives in the Parliament, the 'MP clubs'. They all still vote in favour of the Government's proposals, but it gets harder for Djindjic and his ministers to pass new, reformist laws, without numerous, sometimes unnecessary or even dangerous amendments by the members of the coalition. DSS has never so far voted for the overthrowing of the Government - mainly because this would mean siding with the former regime - SPS and SRS, which would be very unpopular among voters - but it has threatened to do so repeatedly. Premier Djindjic has constantly claimed it would be ridiculous to call early elections while the Government still has a 'stable majority', but it is unclear how much he believes in this stability, too. DSS has openly demanded early elections, hoping the immense popularity of its (and Federal) President Kostunica would allow them to win the elections. The polls are not so encouraging. Kostunica is still the most popular, but steadily declining, whereas, while Djindjic's best position in the polls was the 6th he is slowly gaining in popularity.
Smaller groups don't play an important part in these elections, either they side with one of the two coalitions or they disappear. Attempts have been made to form new blocks - the former small Social Democratic Union and Social Democracy have made a united Social Democratic Party. More traditionalist right-wingers, such as New Serbia and Demo Christian Party are also gaining momentum - currently they are organizing a petition in Serbia proper for the referendum on Serbia's independence (sic!), since they believe what is going on in Montenegro is a disaster. Their DOS colleagues often criticize them for openly undermining the 'good' agreement with Montenegro and the EU, but, in doing so, they also seem to be gaining popularity.
The elections are undoubtedly going to take place in Serbia and 'Yugoslavia'. On what levels and with what protagonists - we will know by the end of the summer at the latest.
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