Irresponsibility, ignorance and incompetence of the government are the only reasons why some citizens will once again in March, out of schedule, vote for their representatives in the Serbian Parliament. The head of Serbia – i.e. deputy prime minister – has been demonstrating political incompetence for over two decades (he is unable to offer a vision of decent society and state; all solutions that he had supported turned out to be epic failures with many victims), a destructive tendency towards creating crises, emergency measures and, more or less, blatant violence. Ever since what is now merely a technical government was formed in late July 2012 – three months after the elections – Serbia has been in a state of emergency of sorts. The ruling method of this government is completely gauzy and equally ruinous: you create a crisis, raise tensions, postpone the decision until the last moment and then offer the distraught nation a supposedly saving solution, which is merely an introduction to the next crisis.
Negotiations about Kosovo started in mid October 2012 and finished – only on paper – in April 2013, after a series of twists, strong statements and dramatic midnight deals. Deputy prime minister regularly arrived at those talks suddenly to decisively say “yes” or “no” in the most intense moment. The talks could have ended in that same October 2012, since the framework for the solution has been Martti Ahtisaari’s plan all along, known to public since 2007. That dog and pony show ended in September, only so that a couple of months later we could learn that the government was reconstructed in order to soon become technical. During the 22 months, from the elections in May 2012 to the elections in March 2014, the SPP–SSP coalition had a regular government for just over six months. The rest of the time was, one way or another, wasted on emergencies created by the government itself.
Still, that government regards its “solving” of the Kosovo issue, its “fight” against corruption and its opening of negotiations with the EU as successes. However, what we are seeing in North Kosovo today is no solution: it is an unannounced state of emergency. The “fight” against corruption turns out to be a fight against political opponents with arbitrary use of institutions. It is an abuse of law which has nothing to do with the rule of law. Finally, in their efforts to start negotiations with the EU, the officials keep “forgetting” to fulfill conditions for receiving EU funds. Because of their errors, citizens of Serbia are deprived of EU grants. So, every “success” of this government turns out to be a loss for citizens of Serbia and Kosovo.
And here we are at the beginning of 2014, facing the new elections. These early elections were not unexpected, neither was a two-year failure of the ruling coalition surprising. We knew that the situation would be like this even before the elections in May 2012 when some of us decided not to vote for any party or to vote against the Democratic Party. Let’s revisit the reasons for such a decision. The final analysis of the previous government’s work coincides with the performance of this government. Its performance was also bad. During the period from 2008-2012 no important issues were resolved, while the doors were widely opened for the former regime to triumphantly come back to power in 2012. The DP is also responsible for the Constitution from 2006, which institutionalized the heritage from the 1990s. The reasons for voting against the DP were evident. Our reasoning from two years ago was this: we will no longer allow to be saddled with an equally incompetent government under the threat of a greater evil. We refuse to choose based on the criterion of the least bad political offer. The fear that things could become worse must no longer be a reason to accept the status quo. We will vote for the party that offers a vision of decent Serbia and persuades us that it can achieve it.
For the sake of the right to worthy choice, we wittingly risked the victory of parties we knew could only be worse. We deliberately accepted the risk of greater evil. And we got a greater evil. But, we believed that that risk was worth taking and bearing: we hoped that the parties we used to vote for would learn something from the defeat. However, it didn’t happen. On the contrary, it turned out that those parties were part of the greater evil.
First of all, neither the LDP nor other parties that participated in various levels of government and lost the last elections provided a thorough analysis of their poor performance. Secondly, none of those parties called upon their officials to accept the consequences of their bad work. Thirdly, in the meantime none of them offered new programs and measures for implementation. Fourthly, none of them presented new people who are able to do it. And finally – they readily lined up as candidates for the new coalition with the SPP. So, not only did they not do anything meaningful after the defeat, but they all, except the DP and NP, further disgraced themselves by flattering the deputy prime minister.
Hence, it is not clear why these parties are now participating in the elections. The deputy prime minister said that the SPP wants a wide coalition, that the future government will be formed exclusively based on the expertise of potential partners and regardless of party affiliation. So, you shouldn’t waste money on the campaign, you should only send your CV to the deputy prime minister and his party and they will select, after the competition is closed, the most suitable candidates. Since those parties are participating in the elections for no reason, there is no reason why you should vote for them. A voter who doesn’t mind the coalition with the SPP has no reason to vote for, for example, the LDP. The reasoning is as follows: capable members of the LDP will be part of the government anyway, since deputy prime minister promised to choose the best. That is why you should vote not for the LDP, but for the SPP, because it further strengthens the future position of the deputy prime minister which would allow him discretion and full democratic legitimacy to choose and change partners.
Similarly to the LDP, Boris Tadic also rendered meaningless the participation in elections of his “democratic” block. Tadic, once again, showed that he has no shame and can’t even think politically. The person who is most responsible for the epic demise of the Democratic Party is looking for another political chance under the deputy prime minister’s wing. However, with his absurd moves, Tadic unintentionally did something good. By dragging them with him, he cleared the party of searchers for “Draza’s grave” and security workers, when they were not thrown out by the DP itself. The hope remains that the DP will be able to capitalize on this eventually.
The fifth point doesn’t apply to the DP and NP. That’s not too bad, but it’s not enough either. Besides that, anything good you could now say about the DP and NP is a result of circumstances, not of deliberate actions. This goes for Tadic leaving the party, as well as for the decision that there will be no coalition with the SPP after the elections. It is unlikely that in the next month the DP and NP will develop a platform that would respond to some of the requests. But, maybe that’s not crucial at the moment. This election is a transit station to the next one. We missed the chance to change it in 2012. The DP and NP should try not to miss the next chance. This election is an ideal opportunity for them to show that they have started to react to the demands presented by some voters two years ago.
So, we come to the question of what should voters do about this election. This question is primarily put before those voters who refused to vote in May 2012. Now, they have two options. One is to do what they did in 2012. The other is to vote for the DP and NP. Only the first alternative is consistent and justified, if we apply the criteria from 2012. However, it is not impossible for the DP and NP to make the second alternative reasonable during the next month. If they don’t do anything during that period, a vote for them would be a confession that we have accepted the “logic” of the greater evil two years too late and that we miscalculated the risk we took back then. In other words, that would mean that we played with our votes a bit, but when we saw where it took us, we immediately repented. By doing that, we would admit that we are no longer asking for decent programs and people who are able to implement them. We would again vote out of fear of greater evil and not based on reasonable judgment. By voting for the DP and NP at any cost, we would render pointless the decision we had many good reasons to make in 2012 and send a much worse message, which could cost us more than greater evil.
Translated by Marijana Simic
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).