Let me reiterate: institutions and procedures of legal and political life in Serbia are nothing but veneers. Behind these veneers, a vast institutionally void space is hidden, similar to a pool table, where people with unequal, quasi-institutional powers uncontrollably move and collide with each other, like billiard balls. Every collision is news by itself, because it is devoid of any sense. The attempt to define a rule or ascertain a meaning from a set of these collisions is useless, because the very institutions which guarantee meaning have been destroyed. We should have gotten used to this a long time ago. And yet again, the current situation in Serbia is a cause for concern.
For months, Aleksandar Vucic has been demonstrating force which has no institutional foothold. The justification he has offered for his arrogance fits into one sentence: “Nobody is stronger than the state”. This sentence insults our intelligence. In Serbia, state does not exist in any shape or form. Serbia does not have a territory, or a constitution, or a judiciary. Force is wielded arbitrary, because we have no minister of police or minister of army. Only because Serbia is not a state, the minister of army can govern police forces, while the minister of police allegedly leads the government. When he says that “Nobody is stronger than the state”, Vucic is actually asking: “Is there anyone stronger than me?” This is dangerous behavior. In the political field in Serbia, Vucic is trying to cement a feudal approach to establishing authority.
Ivica Dacic is also known for saying “Nobody is stronger than the state”. This should be understood only as an answer to Vucic’s question. Dacic and Vucic are arm wrestling. They are both convinced that the winner will be the new ruler of Serbia. However, in order to hide the true nature of their conflict, both Dacic and Vucic have raised the smokescreens of legitimacy. Vucic is hiding his ambition to become a ruler behind the mask of a struggle against corruption. Dacic’s fig leaf is the negotiation on the status of Kosovo. Both of these are new reasons for concern. Dacic and Vucic are saying things they never said in the past. These political transformers have taken over the programs of their opponents without any restraint, thus effectively throwing those opponents out of the political arena.
What are the political opposition and opposition public opinion in Serbia doing today? Mostly expressing their love for Vucic and Dacic. The political field in Serbia has been divided along the axis of the conflict between Vucic and Dacic. The highest ranking representatives of the Democratic Party (DS) are admiring Vucic’s courage. Former members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a part of the opposition public opinion are praising Dacic’s wisdom. LDP itself is jutting out from this picture, but is still failing to formulate a clear political platform. For the time being, this guarantees all of them a convincing defeat at the upcoming elections. However, the naked misery of Serbian politics must hurt more than this certain defeat. Dacic and Vucic have managed, in a short period of time, to unmask the causes of the failure of the political experiment known as 5th of October. There was no vision of a new Serbian state behind this experiment. The lack of that vision is what is leading us towards a new political defeat.
Corruption and Kosovo are not the most pressing and important topics of Serbian politics. Someone should devote their attention to political parties, which are exhausting themselves in pointless oppositional floundering. Corruption is but a symptom, and certainly not the most important one, of the lack of a rule of law. Corruption is not eliminated by the fight against corruption. Corruption disappears, almost by itself, when the rule of law is established, and when a state is capable of reining in the widespread political autocracy, which is being justified by the reason of the state. Kosovo is already a resolved issue. Kosovo is already a political unit independent from Serbia. Thus, the crucial issue remains – how to put Serbia in order, now that Kosovo is gone. On one side, this is a constitutional issue, and, on the other, an issue of the founding national narrative.
From whichever side we look at it, the only logical thing for the opposition to do in Serbia today is to change the daily political agenda. Right now, LDP is the only party pushing the political scene in that direction. However, the ideas this party is promoting are insufficiently clear, and thus still cannot provide a framework for creating a new political front. Instead of corruption and Kosovo, the topic of a new constitution must be imposed. Serbia exists only a few years – more specifically – since 2006. After seven years, it might be about time for the citizens, who have found themselves living within this area bound by the borders of other states, to began building their own state. Because, it they are content with the illusion in the shape of a pool table, they will end up with their pants on the tip of the cue.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic
Dejan Ilić (1965, Zemun), urednik izdavačke kuće FABRIKA KNJIGA i časopisa REČ. Diplomirao je na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu, magistrirao na Programu za studije roda i kulture na Centralnoevropskom univerzitetu u Budimpešti i doktorirao na istom univerzitetu na Odseku za rodne studije. Objavio je zbirke eseja „Osam i po ogleda iz razumevanja“ (2008), „Tranziciona pravda i tumačenje književnosti: srpski primer“ (2011), „Škola za 'petparačke' priče: predlozi za drugačiji kurikulum“ (2016) i „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016).