Serbian Progressive Party (SPP) allegations of mass vote theft

SPP came out with several serious allegations that the 2012 elections were unlawful and unfair, claiming voter fraud. The following accusations were made:

(A) The central electoral registry is incorrect: T. Nikolic accused the government of including the names of 500 000 deceased voters who then “voted” for the government candidates (Blic Online, May 10). Nikolic also said that OSCE claimed that the names of electors from the Kosovo’s electoral registry do not correspond to those in the central electoral registry that is housed in the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Government (News Online, May 10).

(B) Original ballots were replaced after the vote with previously printed duplicate ballots: Nikolic showed reporters about 3,000 ballots, which, he claims, were thrown into the container after the elections and replaced with ballots with selected government candidates. Nikolic did not want to specify where these ballots were discovered, but said that they should be in the possession of REC “and not him.” “This is an original bag and an original voting ballot. Who has the ballots that replaced these? “asked Nikolic, adding that if it happened at one polling station, it could have also happened at others. The SPP leader thinks that those who have replaced the ballots didn’t even care to see whose name was marked, but just replaced them with previously marked ballots. He claims that out of the discarded 3000 election ballots, 2.800 votes were given to the representatives of the opposition parties, while the current government representatives only got 70 votes. “Fake ballots” were, according to him, printed in Poland, came into Serbia through the Hungarian border and then provided to the members of the electoral committees of the ruling coalition. (Novosti online, May 10). Later, SNS leaders expressed different claims – that these ballots come from somewhere in Vojvodina.

(C) Contrary to law, a significant number of voting ballots were printed and made available to government parties: Nikolic also argues that hundreds of thousands additional ballots were printed, which were then made available to the Democratic Party (DP) for “manipulation at own discretion” (Novosti online, May 10).

What did SPP do with regards to these allegations?

Legal remedies. The first reaction of T. Nikolic was to address the public, not the police, because in this way he “feels safer and nobody can do anything to him”, and that SPP is leaving the verification of his

allegations and will be leaving the “adequate response” to be made by REC, the Administrative Court and the police. The responsible authorities should come to Nikolic so that he can explain what happened (Novosti online, May 10). “SNS filed a criminal complaint against unknown persons for electoral fraud”, Nikolic told reporters. He said that no state authority responsible for this, either the police or the prosecutor’s office, contacted SPP so to follow up on the allegations of electoral fraud concerning the showed bag full of ballots “found in a dumpster”. “Nikolic said that the SPP plans to present evidence of electoral fraud when relevant state institutions ask for them” (Radio 021). Then SPP filed a complaint to REC, seeking annulment of elections at all levels. The objection is based on the claim that the discovered bag of full of ballots brings into question complete election results.

Political measures. SPP said that it will hold public rallies and invited citizens to join the protest on Sunday, May 13 (Beta, 13 May). It also announced intent to internationalize the problem: “SPP contacted the American and the Russian Embassies, OSCE, and the EU Delegation in Belgrade”, Nikolic said, adding that “on Monday he will talk to the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade, Mary Warlick”. His participation in the second round of presidential elections was left (for a short time) open (Beta, May 12 and 13).

How did the political public react to these allegations?

(A) Political parties that consider themselves victorious and their representatives: “The opponents would like to make a so-called turning point in this election by throwing mud in my face while mud has been flowing down their faces for 20 years”, said the presidential candidate Tadic. As for SPP’s allegations of electoral fraud, Tadic said that “we need to have a clear situation so that citizens know that those who have been elected were elected in a legitimate manner” (www.smedia.rs, May 10). “It would be dangerous if the stories about (electoral) irregularities are used to destabilize the country. That’s not responsible behaviour” said Tadic. Claims of electoral fraud were disputed by both Krkobabić and Dacic. Sutanovac presented his version of events: “We have reason to suspect that someone illegally came into the possession of the electoral material and gave it to the SPP. There is indication that two days ago Tomislav Nikolić visited Zajecar and we suspect that those ballots originate from there”, Sutanovac said at a news conference. Sutanovac also said that this was a deliberate fraud by the SPP because, he said, Tomislav Nikolic earlier announced that the elections will be irregular and that the SPP will be robed if it does not win the election. He said there are two ways to explain the origin of these voting ballots. First is that these are forged ballots, and the other is that SPP activists have been collecting these ballots in advance so that they can be inserted into polling stations where Boris Tadic has more support. Noting that all parties had representation in all electoral committees and that irregularities were therefore impossible, Sutanovac urged authorities to investigate all allegations of alleged irregularities (RTS, 11 May).

(B) Political commentators and experts: It was emphasized by all interviewees of the daily newspaper Danas that a large theft of votes in this election, as claimed by the representatives of some parties, could not have occurred. As electoral process experts and political analysts explained, complaints regarding the alleged massive irregularities were disclosed late, and not on the election night, as it’s usually the case. Also, representatives of all parties were present at both the polling stations and the election commissions, where they controlled each other, so the possibility of manipulation was minimal (Danas, May 11).

(C) The Republic Electoral Commission (REC): The spokesman for REC, Miodrag Petrovic, said that there can’t be talk about election fraud on May 6 and that anyone claiming that must have and present the evidence. “The evidence must be presented in a valid and legally prescribed form. Where REC determines that the objections are well-founded, REC will accept them and repeat elections at affected polling stations”, Petrovic told BETA news agency. Petrovic said that full elections will not be repeated, regardless of “expectations from some people”. “What has been done so far by REC indicates that there will be no repeat of complete elections. Elections could only be repeated at some polling stations”, he said (http://srb.time.mk/). The Secretary of the Republic Electoral Commission Veljko Odalovic announced the possibility of forming a REC commission that will verify the electoral material. Odalovic said that REC carries out all of its activities transparently and that all political parties have their members and deputy members in the REC and can observe everything. According to the Commission Secretary, REC is not responsible for dealing with specific events taking place at the polling stations (Politika online, 11 and12 May).

(D) CeSID: After recent statements that the allegations of electoral fraud are unusual, Marko Blagojevic was a bit more specific: “If it turns out that progressives today showed authentic ballots, there is a justification for authorities dealing with criminal law enforcement to determine the origin of these ballots. It is no longer an election irregularity, but rather a criminal offence which is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years”. He added that, based on what was said by Nikolic and Vucic, it is not possible to conclude at which stage of the electoral process the alleged theft occurred – whether at the polling station, during transportation or at any other time after the closing of the polls. “If it happened at the polling station, I do not know how it could have been missed by all the election committee members, including the representatives of SPP and T. Nikolic”, asked Blagojevic, pointing out that SPP had two or three representatives at every polling station. “If the theft claimed by SPP occurred after the vote, then one can very simply determine this by going back to the signed records and seeing whether the data available to the party coincides with those published by the Election Commission”, said Blagojevic (Tanjug, 10 May).

How would this issue be approached in a state ruled by law?

(A) The question is not whether electoral fraud could have happened but did it happen. All efforts by state institutions – primarily REC, the Administrative Court, the Ministry of Public Administration, Local Government and Human Rights, the police and the public prosecutor should be directed only at what happened, not whether and what could have happened.

(B) Actions of the party claiming that there was electoral fraud. Those who claim that electoral fraud had occurred, must bear the burden of factually proving election irregularities and violations, except when there is suspicion that of a possible criminal offence, in which case the state prosecutor must take the lead. The claim of election fraud represents willingness to take responsibility for persistently proving that fraud had occurred. Legal steps taken by T. Nikolic and SPP were not in line with their serious allegations. In this case as well, Nikolic’s first reaction demonstrates that he believes that he is above the law – asking state officials to “come to him”, in case they need more information. He therefore acted in the same manner as in the presidential elections of 2008, when he announced (as the then head of the Serbian Radical Party) that he will “review” the verdicts regarding Dragoljub Milanovic (concerning the bombing of the RTS building) and the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Both then and now, T. Nikolic does not leave an impression of a politician who understands that everyone is bound by law regardless of their actual or imagined social status. Nikolic does not believe that he should abide by law, but is rather convinced – and saying this in his very own way – that it’s the law that should serve him. Unfortunately, many others in recent Serbian history have expressed this arrogant superposition over the legal system: from Kostunica and the Democratic Party of Serbia that cannot comprehend that someone can file a criminal complaint against Kostunica, over Tadic who has never found the time to comment on the miserable judicial reform, despite his claims that he is all for European values and standards, which are suited for the Serbian judiciary similarly to the way anecdotal breasts suit a chicken.

When claims about massive electoral fraud are made, they must be substantiated. The complainant must identify the polling stations where irregularities occurred, describe these acts, show how they affected the outcome of the elections and identify regulations that would require the annulment of elections. Proving election fraud is a difficult job. I can testify to this from my personal experience, because together with my colleagues from the legal team of the former coalition “Zajedno” I worked for months in order to prove election fraud which took place in the local elections of 1996. Serious allegations of major electoral fraud can be proven only through systematic and hard work. The allegations that records from the polling stations were forged must be proven by comparing SPP’s copies of signed records from the electoral committee to those of REC. Legal action does not constitute showing records from poling stations on TV – it has to be presented to the responsible state authority. With regards to the election ballots found in a bag, it is not enough to file a criminal complaint – ballots must be handed over to the police, witness records that contain accurate descriptions of the ballots need to be made containing detailed information about whether these ballots were intended for presidential, parliamentary or local elections, the exact number of ballots, information about the physical characteristics of these ballots together with a request to conduct forensic testing so to determine whether they are genuine or counterfeit. Also, allegations about the irregularities in the central electoral registry had to be made at the time the data was made public, and in case accusations were made at a later date, those challenging the elections needed to deal with the relevant state authority – in this case the Ministry of Public Administration, Local Governance and Human Rights.

(C) The party that has been accused of electoral fraud must vigorously insist that all facts be determined and disclosed. The candidate Tadic did request that all SPP claims be investigated. However, the probability that there is a real intent to do something would have certainly been higher if Tadic hadn’t been, similar to Nikolic, very abstract in what he said, and had made a clear requested that REC verifies records from polling stations as well as verify the accuracy of data processed by the Statistical Office. D. Šutanovac would have been better off leaving the task of providing explanations about the origin of found ballots to those who are more competent and qualified in criminal law.

(D) In a country where law governs, every organ has its own scope of work. None of the state authorities reacted to the allegations of electoral fraud as they lawfully should or could have and some did not react at all.

The Republic Electoral Commission (REC)

First, it should be emphasized that REC is legally responsible only parliamentary and presidential elections (Article 7 of the presidential election, Of. Gaz. RS. 111/2007 and 104/2009). For local elections, legally responsible institutions are city or municipal election commissions. All complaints relating to local elections should be forwarded to these institutions.

T. Nikolić filed a very abstract complaint to REC. REC took the complaint into consideration and rejected it. Formally, it was not dismissed as alleged by some newspapers – the complaint is dismissed for procedural reasons; for example, because it was untimely or submitted by an unauthorized person. The following is an explanation given by the REC Secretary, V. Odalovic: (1) The complaint submitted by T. Nikolic was treated as an objection to the regularity of presidential elections, but Nikolić, in the opinion of REC, is not authorized to file an appeal against REC’s decision on parliamentary elections. (2) The complaint was rejected, and with it, and the proposal to repeat the elections at all levels. (3) The reason for rejecting the complaint lies in the fact that it did not provide any evidence which substantiates the allegations of electoral fraud: “The opposition Serbian Progressive Party requested a complete repeat of elections on all levels because of a bag full of voting ballots discovered in a container, but REC has not been provided with any evidence regarding these claims. Commission does not know where this bag was found, who found it, or what were its contents” (Blic, May 13). This means that REC has only formally rejected the complaint, while in essence dismissing it, because the party that filed the complaint did not provide the required evidence – the complaint was not investigated because it was vague. REC’s decision to reject the complaint was adopted with 11 votes “for” and 3 votes “against”. The Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (AVH) had significant influence on the final wording in the rejection letter. Istvan Pasztor, president of AVH said in an interview for the “Magyar Szo” journal that the representatives of AVH in REC were told to support the publishing of final results for the presidential and parliamentary elections in order to “preserve country’s stability and the safety of its citizens. Instructions given to AVH representatives were different from those given in the past. There are times when things become critical and when human safety and stability prevails over everything. If AVH had not supported the publication of final results on Thursday it would have not been possible to declare the election results. Apart from that, we still have reservations about these elections as we have formulated earlier”, he added (www.e-novine.com, May 12). (4) In an earlier announcement that a special committee to determine the state of electoral material will be set-up, the secretary V. Odalović predetermined REC’s final decision. Also, two days before passing a decision regarding the SPP complaint he said: “SNS seeks to annul the elections at all levels. The submitted complaint is lacking information about the found ballots and the specific polling station”said Odalovic (Beta, May 11). (5) From the statements made by REC representatives it can not be concluded what actions were taken to confirm that the elections were regular.

What REC should and must have done?

First, REC is a state institution with a mandate to enforce electoral legislation (Article 34 para. 1 point. 1 of the Law on Election of Deputies). This obligation is expressed in the form of peremptory norms. In carrying-out its mandate REC should not only act on complaints from parties and candidates but also demonstrate initiative (ex officio). A serious allegation of electoral fraud was made and it was accompanied by an indication – a bag of voting ballots found in a trash container. Despite the fact that the complaint from SPP and T. Nikolic was not sufficiently specific, an electoral commission that wants to get to the truth and eliminate any doubt citizens may have in the electoral process would on its own initiate a fact-finding mission and notify the public or hold a public meeting before the cameras. It should not allow any public doubt, either by indicating its final decision before it’s made officially or by making in-passing statements about a possible creation of a special commission. An election commission that takes elections seriously would conduct an investigation of both the presidential and parliamentary elections without the formation of special committee or some other ad hoc body. I argue that everything could have been done in 48 hours, when it comes to presidential, and in three days when it comes to parliamentary elections. Only if there had been will.

There were 8,549 polls open in Serbia for this election was. This number multiplied by two (presidential and parliamentary elections) gives a figure of just over 17,000 voting records. Verification could be done in the following way.

The first step. REC provides each of its 17 members with records from approximately 1000 polling stations. One SPP representative reviews these records together with the REC member. They compare REC reports from polling stations to the copies of records given to SPP representatives at the poling stations. If the voting records are identical and there is no suspicion in the authenticity of the signatures, the verification complete. If, however, there is a difference between REC records and those provided by SPP representative regarding the parliamentary elections, the envelope with the polling material from the polling station is opened and votes are recounted. In the event that there is a difference between the information in the report from the polling station and the number of counted votes, REC cancels the election in this polling station, dissolves the electoral committee and determines the date of the re-vote (in accordance with Article 74/ 8, Law on the Election of Deputies). With regards to the presidential election results, in case of a discrepancy between the reports from the polling stations and the number of counted votes, due to the closeness of the second round of elections, elections should not be repeated and the number of re-counted ballots should be taken as valid. In case that the authenticity of signatures in the report from the polling station is challenged, envelopes containing the voting material should be opened, ballots re-counted and this number taken as valid. However, if it is disputable whether the ballots are authentic in presidential and parliamentary elections, then there is no other option but to cancel the elections at certain polling stations and to dissolve the electoral committees. In the case of presidential elections, because of the proximity of the second round, there is no time to repeat the elections. Presidential elections should be annulled only in case of uncertainty about the two first-placed candidates – Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic, that is if there is likelihood that someone else received more votes than them. Considering all that has been presented so far, this probability is unlikely and both of these candidates received significantly more votes than the third placed candidate, who did not claim fraud. However, the number of votes received in the first round of voting is not without significance: one that has the highest number of votes is listed first on the ballot while the one with the smaller number of votes is listed second. The found bag containing suspicious ballots, according to SPP claims contains 3,000 ballots, while it is not specified how many of these ballots were for presidential and how many for other elections. The difference between the top-ranked runner Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic, according to the final results of presidential elections announced by REC, is about 10,000 votes. For the purposes of determining the order on the second round ballots it is necessary to determine the exact number of votes by opening the voting materials from disputed polling stations and counting them. If the recount changes the order, the information obtained by re-counting the votes should be used to determine the final order. Where irregularities are found, not only should REC dissolve the electoral commission, but it must also decide on the possibility of filing criminal charges against the members of the dissolved electoral committees.

Second step. Since the allegations also apply to the electronic processing of votes, in order to verify the accuracy of the totals, REC should check the accuracy of data transcription and the Statistical Office of Serbia data for each polling station. I do not know whether the Statistical Office enters the voter record data manually, by scanning or in some other, third way. The processed data are available on the website of the Statistical Office. In case of discrepancies, REC should take the above described first step. Both of these steps, with adequate logistics, would not require more than two days for the presidential elections, whose second round is imminent.

Ministry of Public Administration, Local Government and Human Rights

REC in April 2012 declared that there are about 7,026,500 voters. This declaration was made on the basis of the central electoral register that was prepared by the Ministry of Public Administration, Local Government and Human Rights. This figure is very surprising because preliminary data from the 2011 October census showed that the total population of Serbia is 7,120,666. This means that the difference between the total population and the total number of voters is less than 100,000, leading to a wrongful conclusion that almost all people in Serbia are persons with voting rights. Voting rights are obtained upon reaching the age of 18, meaning that the estimates on the total number of voters are wrong. The 2002 census reported 22.37% of the population under the age of 19, meaning that a valid estimate is that approximately around 20% of the total population (one fifth) are minors without voting rights. Based on the results of earlier censuses one can estimate the number of minors in relation to the total number of Serbian citizens as being between 15% and 20%, and that this number has been more or less stable. When this knowledge is applied to the census of 2011, and assuming that the proportion of minors in the population is 15%, one can assume that there is about 6.02 million people with voting rights. And initially we were informed that REC has registered about a million more voters, i.e. 7,026,579 voters. I recall that in the parliamentary 2008 elections (May 11), there were about 280,000 less voters than n this year’s elections. On the other hand, published data shows that the total population on Serbia decreased by about 300,000, compared to the census from 2002. After REC initially came out with the total number of voters, based on new data from the central electoral register, a few days before the elections they changed the number to 6.77 million voters. So there is definitely something very wrong here. In this context one should consider the alleged 500,000 deceased voters, as discussed by Nikolić and SPP. Although it seems difficult to explain these numbers, it is interesting that initially no political party or candidate officially requested an explanation about the number of voters in the central electoral registry and how it compares to the total number of Serbian citizens, nor asked for an explanation regarding the decrease in the number of voters. This was not requested by the presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic or the largest opposition party SPP until the moment when they became dissatisfied with the election results and the announcement that DP and its possible coalition partners will form a parliamentary majority. The same issue doesn’t seem to have bothered Boris Tadic in his presidential capacity, or later when he was a presidential candidate. For political parties this issue is not important, even verbally, because they are not looking for political legitimacy: they are only interested in the success of the elections, and in their share of political power. Our election laws are such that the percentage of citizens that vote has no legal significance, and it is for this reason that these figures are so irrelevant to the political parties, even though they should not be. For us, the citizens, this must not be irrelevant, because it is based on the turnout that determines if the future state body (President of the Republic, Government, Parliament) will be able to call upon its political legitimacy which was given to them by the (supposedly) sovereign electorate. It is disturbing that an explanation was not requested by REC, which declared the number of voters on the basis of the central electoral registry, or CeSID, specializing in election monitoring – an organization that should be interested in the regularity of the electoral process, and not in the success of this or that individual or political group. At times, grades, assessments and explanations were given to the media but nothing has been officialy said about it by the representatives of the Ministry, the Institute of Statistics and REC. The most serious approach to this issue, in the media world, was taken by Peščanik in its programs and published articles. The question of legitimacy is not really on the political or media radar .

After the elections, if no one else, not even the SPP and Nikolić, ask for a written clarification of astonishing election inconsistencies, then at the least this should be done by the off-media. The same would also need to be done officially by REC. All this will be much more useful than self-serving and pretentious statements made by the Ministry responsible for the elections:

“Never in Serbia were there so nearly an accurate, precise, up-to-date, and abuse-proof voter registry like today,” declared the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Government. “Every change that was made to the electoral registry after the introduction of a centralized system is recorded and can be associated with a name, identification number, type and time the change was made” said a statement following the requests for more information about the electoral register. It was also pointed out that “more than four million flaws and errors had been eliminated using the centralized system.”

Those are the facts that speaks in favour of “that such a system has set a standard, unmatched by anything that Serbia had so far, that can be envied by many countries in the world”. The Ministry offered that the minister and his staff, for the sake of providing more information about the central electoral register as a unique electronic database used for the first time since the introduction of a multiparty system in Serbia, make presentations to all parliamentary parties. “Then, as well as now, we are ready to present the single electoral registry to any interested political actor, explain its significance and the advantages of establishing such a system”, said the people from the Ministry” (Blic, 10 May).

If only they had also explained how it was possible that at first reporting the number of voters is almost equal to the number of people living in Serbia, and how they have magically shrank the electoral registry by almost 300,000 persons in the second reporting. If we all transformed into political actors, wouldn’t we then qualify to have the Minister and his staff personally present the registry.

The police and the Public Prosecutor

Given the changes in statements given by T. Nikolić and SPP about the found bag and its contents and origins – Poland via Hungary, a place in Southern Banat, a place in Backa, withholding information about the person that found the bag – it was necessary to, in detail, describe these things in the criminal charges raised against the unknown persons responsible for the electoral fraud. A forensic analysis of its contents, i.e. ballots can be organized with the participation of SPP. This would be the right approach and not the exhibitionist type chatter about the various shades of ballot’s bluish colour, weight and density. For all this remains only in the domain of speculation. Forensic analysis also requires taking into consideration decisions made by REC and the guidelines for the implementation of elections. On the basis of Art. 54 of these guidelines: “Ballots for the elections shall be printed in Belgrade, in the facilities of the Official Gazette. Ballots shall be printed on paper protected by a watermark colour Pantone 263 (light purple). The number of ballots that are printed must be equal to the number of registered voters. In a decision published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, the Republic Electoral Commission determines the number of ballots to be printed, and the number of spare ballots, which can not exceed 0.5% of total voters. The Republic Electoral Commission shall prescribe the text, form and the appearance of the ballots”. REC’s decisions concerning the presidential election are determined by the shape and colour of the ballots: “Ballots shall be printed on paper PANTONE 7506 colour (light tan). Test ballot for checking the validity of the ballot box will be printed on paper coloured with Pantone 117 (old gold). ”

Depending on the results of the forensic expertise – whether found ballots were originals or forgeries – steps need to be taken for further criminal investigation, prosecution and court proceedings. The result of this process – no matter how the elections end – will be of particular importance for the future of fair elections in Serbia.

Actions following REC’s decision to reject the complaints of T. Nikolic and SPP

(A) Further legal and political options available to SPP and Nikolic. Against REC’s decision, the complainant shall be entitled to, within 48 hours of receiving the decision, appeal to the Administrative Court. Neither SPP or Nikolic informed the public whether they have filed a complaint or whether they will do this in the future. I have no illusions about Serbia being a state in which law is respected. But every actor in a legal proceeding, if he wants to bring it to the end, must behave as if he resides in a state ruled by law. Although we have not been informed about the legal arguments, the actors did inform us about the political ones. “At today’s meeting, the Presidency of the Serbian Progressive Party came to a conclusion that SPP does not recognize the results of the election announced by the Republic Electoral Commission. From tomorrow, we will begin with peaceful, democratic, nonviolent protests throughout Serbia, through which we want to inform the Serbian public that these elections were not regular, fair and in accordance with the law, and that they may have been orchestrated in advance by the parties of the ruling coalition “said the presidential candidate Tomislav Nikolic (SPP Web site, May 12). Not recognizing the electoral results and calling for mass protests is a political and not a legal response. However, such a response has legal implications, given Nikolic’s subsequent decision: “The presidential candidate of the coalition Lets Move Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic said in Kikinda, that he has decided to participate in a runoff election for the president of Serbia” (Tanjug, 13 May). So, at first Nikolic says he does not recognize the elections and then decides to continue participating in these same elections. Further participation in the elections means de facto recognition of the election, despite their explicit non-recognition.

Nikolic resembles REC. REC allegedly took into consideration his complaint and allegedly refused it, while in fact rejecting it because it lacked details. Nikolic also resembles Tadic, who asked responsible authorities to investigate everything, while not saying what everything is. They all tend to resemble a miserable little country that does not even pretend to care to respect the rules of the electoral game. Not only Nikolic’s SPP, but also many others, are ready to invite the public to take to the streets, not actually knowing exactly whether this is an invitation to take part in a farcical staging resembling the protests of 1996/97 and October 5 2000, or a demonstration of civil sovereignty rights placed in the service of some partocratic structure. Or, simply an invitation to head to the streets because their is nothing more left to do, because all the roads leading to employment, decent earning and life have been tightly shut.

(B) Further political options of Tadic and DP. Tadic is a presidential candidate who still sees himself as the president. There is no other explanation to him officially meeting with Jens Stoltenberg in his capacity as the Prime Minister of Norway. “Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, one of the greatest friends of our capital city, once again visited Belgrade. Stoltenberg on Saturday met with Boris Tadic, with whom he toured the Telenor company “(Vecernje novosti, May 12). The presidential candidate and the leader of the Democratic Party (DP) Boris Tadic, and the head of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (AVH) Istvan Pastor agreed tonight, in Subotica to continue with the strategic cooperation between the two parties and announced that the AVH will decide whether it will support Tadic in the coming days. “We have agreed to continue with our political cooperation that is closely tied to our strategic relationship” said Tadic in front of the reporters. He explained that the problems arising in the local elections will be dealt with by the local party organizations that are politically responsible for these issues. “I will monitor how these problems are resolved in accordance with our agreed principles” said Tadic (Blic, May 12).

Am I making an overstatement if I connect this “continuing cooperation” with the voting of the AVH representatives in the REC meeting which decided on the complaint by SPP and T. Nikolic?

Truth and Reconciliation: Ivica Dacic

In the shadows of prosecutions and defences remained Ivica Dacic in a new, penitent role. As if he had emerged from the impressive experience of the Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Dacic has decided to face his dark past, openly admitting participation in a distant election theft: I, as the leader of Socialist Party of Serbia, declare that I will never again participate in vote theft, because I will never trip twice on the same stone (RTS, May 11). Only Tutu’s penitents did not go to become ministers of police, nor claimed the right to the position of prime minister. Nor, did they before the truth and reconciliation called in the brass players. They lived and are living their anonymous lives. Life of the latest Serbian penitent has not modesty, is far from anonymous, and threatens to be extremely exclusive, so to say almost extra cool.

And finally, let’s not forget the white votes

It seems that I can’t manage to understand why white votes (hereafter WV) are being criticized vis-à-vis LDP. A wide range of opinions – the hypothesis that they punished LDP to that theory that the campaign failed because the average percentage of about 2.5% invalid ballots rose only by 2%. If the campaign was a failure (T. Pančić) how can anyone claim, even if it is LDP, that they were punished? Particularly when LDP itself claims that it was the electoral irregularities that were the reason for its low number of votes, particularly the annulment of the elections in Belgrade on 16 polling stations based on the objections of several parties among which was also LDP. Also, in the general analysis of elections (regardless on the impacts ghostly WV had on LDP), which did not come from LDP’s supporters or analysts, but rather LDP officials, one should not ignore conflicting views within the party: “The deputy of the Liberal Democratic Party and the head of the Vojvodina Board Dusan Mijic expressed doubts about the regularity of the provincial elections as well as the general election results, saying that “since October 5 2000, there was no so much confusion about the elections” (Dnevnik, 13 May). “Member of the Republic Electoral Commission from the coalition Preokret (Reversal) Dragan Ninkovic said today that the elections in Serbia were implemented fairly and in lawful manner and that they were a step forward compared to previous election cycles. Ninkovic said it was a good thing that there is progress with each new election cycle. “The election process was legally valid as evidenced by the fact that all complaints were rejected and that everything was done in accordance with the law. There were no legally valid objections that could affect the results of elections and the electoral cycle, “said Ninkovic” (Blic, May 10).

I suspect that when LDP wins the ridings where elections were repeated, WV be left to self-manage. But it seems that the monstrous accusations will not. The promoters of WV are being criticized in somewhat contradictory ways – from that they are acting outside the system (early T. Pančić; the gates of anarchism are finally being open), to that they are demonstrating babbitry (late T. Pančić), conformism of the downtown Belgrade elite (various authors ), are waving the symbol of manhood (S. Basara) and pub loafing (again S. Basara). The two university professors behind WV – S. Turajlić and V. Rakic-Vodinelic are being called stupid (M. Nikolic, polit. analyst). Two individuals who came out with this critic, Pančić and Basara, are my favourite authors who I enjoy and will enjoy reading and their comments will surely not change anything with regards to my appreciation. This is probably why I have decided to self-reflect. The outside system approach in dealing with myself did not take me far: I remembered what kind of questions were asked from S. Turajlić for the magazine Vreme interview, and in particular whether she is supporting the idea of WV as an anarchist, communist or an extravagant personality, the terminology I used in the text “Empty votes”, published on the website Peščanik. So here I am, being quoted and educated using leading questions – my introspection was immediately replaced with vanity. Trying to imagine S. Turajlić and myself strapped with suicide bombs didn’t result in much: we have qualified for the Cinema Communism – a surreal vision. Babbitry and conformity – well, this would probably look good on me – in addition to vanity. The various symbols, probably due to my age, I decided to ignore. Is the idea of WV stupid one could probably be theoretically discussed. The political analyst should have however persisted further in his analysis – the two mentioned professors are surely stupid, a fact which needs no proof: here they are in the middle of Serbia, living off their work, not off politics, as politicians or political analysts. But something still remained as a dilemma: in my lack of self-criticism I was convinced that I appreciated working. Luckily I remembered that I was fired because “I was absent from work for five consecutive working days.” I did strike at the time, but this was not stated in my discharge notice.

Peščanik.net, 21.05.2012.


The following two tabs change content below.
Vesna Rakić Vodinelić
Vesna Rakić Vodinelić, beogradska pravnica, 1975-1998. predaje na državnom pravnom fakultetu u Beogradu, gde kao vanredna profesorka dobija otkaz posle donošenja restriktivnog Zakona o univerzitetu i dolaska Olivera Antića za dekana. Od 1987. članica Svetskog udruženja za procesno pravo. 1998-1999. pravna savetnica Alternativne akademske obrazovne mreže (AAOM). 1999-2001. rukovodi ekspertskom grupom za reformu pravosuđa Crne Gore. Od 2001. direktorka Instituta za uporedno pravo. Od 2002. redovna profesorka Pravnog fakulteta UNION, koji osniva sa nekoliko profesora izbačenih sa državnog fakulteta. Od 2007. članica Komisije Saveta Evrope za borbu protiv rasne diskriminacije i netolerancije. Aktivizam: ljudska prava, nezavisnost pravosuđa. Politički angažman: 1992-2004. Građanski savez Srbije (GSS), 2004-2007. frakcija GSS-a ’11 decembar’, od 2013. bila je predsednica Saveta Nove stranke, a ostavku na taj položaj podnela je u aprilu 2018, zbog neuspeha na beogradskim izborima.
Vesna Rakić Vodinelić

Latest posts by Vesna Rakić Vodinelić (see all)