A tram to 21st century...

27 April 08

Elections are coming up again and I remembered I have a blog, so let me cut to the chase. Thinking about elections gives me headache, so this blog entry will be dull and deprived of humor. Don’t read it unless you really have to.

Parliamentary elections

There will be five major players in the parliamentary elections: Serbian Radical Party, Socialist Party of Serbia, Democratic Party of Serbia, Democratic Party and friends and Liberal Democratic Party.

Serbian Radical Party and Socialist Party of Serbia

The first two, Radicals and Socialists (it is highly ironic to call them socialists… Socialist Party of Serbia’s social program in the 1990s was to invent a super-duper secret Tesla all-powerful Serbian something and sell it for copious amounts of money and feed the hungry and poor) should not exist.

Both of those parties held power in 1990s and proved that they have no democratic capacity. Milošević came to power by violating the constitution of the country and taking away autonomy of two Serbian provinces at the time. During their rule, they abused all of the country’s institutions, fixed election results, got us into war more than once, and murdered and tortured people. When Serbian Radical Party briefly took some of the power in 1998, they deepened these violations by further repressions on the media and universities.

These two parties have NO democratic legitimacy and SHOULD NOT take part in the democratic process.

Our beloved Prime Minister

The incumbent PM’s party, which has about 10% of popular support, touched the bottom of a metaphorical septic hole. Their populism and recent public opposition to European Union enlargement makes me want to commit suicide by drinking Danube water or living in the industrial part of the city of Pančevo.

“European” forces

President’s Democratic Party is bearable, but the President — Bo Ta (Boris Tadić) isn’t. He is giving his best to target rightists and nationalists by bullshitting about Kosovo being best defended from the EU, so their primary slogan is: We need to join the EU so we can defend Kosovo.

Defend Kosovo from whom? By that time, probably fellow European Union citizens.

By keeping this rightist stand, which includes removing ambassadors from countries that recognized Kosovo and destroying international relations, they are losing their target audience.

Liberal Democratic Party on the other hand is the only one accepting reality about Kosovo. Their heart is at place, but they still have the same problem: compromised and in many ways incompetent party membership.

City elections

I’ll try to write about them when I get some inspiration back.


  1. Sarah Franco
    May 2, 08:14 AM #

    good post: this seems to me a very clear analysis of the serbian politcal parties.

    I particularly agree with the part when you refer to LDP. I had the chance to meet some of its members, and if many of them are people commited to the values the party defends, specially among their initial members, other are there simply because it became fashionable among a certain strata to be an LDP member.

    This is a problem that exists in party politics (not merely in the party or in serbia). Many people are allowed to come in without the party making sure that those new members really support its values.

    Two years ago, I met a young man who tryied to manipulate me by trying to convince me that the serbian society ‘needed to overcome the trauma caused by the Milosevic regime by engaging in a spiritual union’ and that he was tired of always having someone remembering him about srebrenica. I played dumb, so up to today he is convinced that the naive foreign research was marveled by his insight and that he had saved my from those human rights defenders lunatics …

    all his rethorics sounded just like Kostunica, but this hasn’t prevented LDP to accept him as a party member some months ago. Now he is not only a party member but also an active party member.

    I guess he was accepted because the party welcomes young intellectuals, but being an intellectual tells nothing about one’s commitment towards liberal democracy, and even less in Serbia.

  2. Anonymii
    May 3, 03:41 AM #

    Superb post! The first person (that I know of) who acknowledged the irony over “Socialist Party of Serbia”

    Keep posting. Great read!

  3. Philipp
    May 5, 07:10 PM #

    It is not totally true that you can enter any party without a «value-check»; when I became a party member, I had to undergo a set of questions that clearly – and openly – aimed at checking whether or not I was truly supporting Liberal views and values. Mind you, it wasn’t the Serbian LDP.

  4. Sarah Franco
    May 7, 02:55 PM #


    I am not meaning to say that all parties are like that. It’s Just that I personally know people who were accepted in political parties who do not even close to the party’s ideals.

    the problem lies mostly in the small sections. in a section with a small number of members it is easy to take over by silently inviting people to join, until you believe you will have a majority supporting you.

    I see this happening in my country, and i know it’ happening elsewhere.
    In the specific case of LDP, which is a party whose leaders and courageuos positions I respect, they willingly let young intelectuals, artists or people with the potential to become part of a cultural elite join them.


    this artist that I met 2 years ago: I immediatelly grasped his mentality.

    If someone told me that he had joined DSS I would think it made sense.

    Back then he was a nobody, but since then his artistic work has been valued, and now I am told that he joined LDP.

    One of these days I will write about this in my blog, because I have some quotations of the things he told me.

    he thought I was another naive foreigner whom he could easily manipulate and even now he still believes he succeded in convincing me that the serbs should stop blaming themselves for things like srebrenica because

    what really matters is the spiritual unity of all serbs: samo sloga srbima spasava . not that he used the expression, but this was what he was trying to tell me.

    I just listened and gave no opinion. I was meeting him to listen to him, and anyway he didn’t ask what I though…

    of course he is smart enough not to tell the same things to the LDP people. But they didn’t check well enough…

    he is convinced that he saved me from that civic minded scum, those same people whose party he now belongs to.

  5. Dejan
    May 7, 07:40 PM #

    I don’t necessarily think that all of the “petty” membership of LDP is bad, nor that all of the leadership has issues, but it has to be noted that people who e.g. wrote rampant nationalist columns in 1990s should not have a place in LDP, especially if they still have racist feelings towards Turkey, Asia, etc.

    On the other hand, party quality, in my opinion, starts at the bottom. If municipal party officers are able to control city-wide or top leadership, the party will do good. If all they want is to suck up to the leadership and “advance”, as is the case with many LDP members — the party is fucked.

    Several of my close friends joined LDP and tried to do something at municipal level — they soon hit the wall when opportunists and manipulators took over.

  6. Peregrine
    May 8, 05:47 PM #

    “makes me want to commit suicide by drinking Danube water” LOL

    On a more serious note: I’m interested in your comment about municipal leadership. I’m not sure if you are implying that local officers are not interested enough in holding the top leadership accountable, or that top leadership is not interested in being held accountable. (I expect you’ll say both.) Where does the impetus for democratic acountability come from?

  7. Dejan
    May 10, 08:44 AM #

    Peregrine, this is the problem that happens in that particular party, at least the way I see it: Officers at municipal level often see it as a stop to getting to the city or republic officer posts. Many of its members don’t really understand what local political organization is there for, and make some rather bad and unpopular (for the wider community) moves.

    Meanwhile, the top of the party often interprets opportunism as enthusiasm and they make relatively bad choices in affirming municipal branch managers etc.

    This creates a devastating personal situation: members at the bottom want to suck up to the top, so they hardly ever question decisions of the top. Furthermore, they don’t represent their municipal interests to the republic-level offices of the party. Meanwhile, the party top doesn’t do anything to stop this.

    I can’t really go into this any further, because I got most of my information about LDP from people who experienced this problem first hand, and I don’t want to write about specifics without their permission.

  8. Sarah Franco
    May 12, 12:51 AM #

    you don’t need to be more specific. this is a problem that has been described by machiavelli on the prince, when he writes on how the prince should deal with their advisers.

    this happens in any party, whenever people get to generate expectations that they will be able to pursue a professional political career.

    when a party starts expanding its member basis, this issue inevitably arises.

    oportunists are an unavoidable part of party systems. however, if at the top the commitment to certain values continue to hold, what will happen is that about 1/3 of its intermediate cadres will resist oportunism, while learning how to properly deal with the oportunists with pragmatism, by not giving them room enough for them to feel free from any control, so that the oportunists will find themselves in the need to defend certain values, not for the principles, but at least as a tactical move.

    giving the fact that oportunists compete with each other, these 1/3 get the chance to hold the balance as long as they manage to have some cohesion.

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