It’s difficult to discuss the election results, if there is reasonable doubt that they were strategically planned so that the ruling coalition wins, as a united political cartel, with minutely designed interventions in the voting process, in order to bring all pals to the same position of power after the elections. There was a great lament over the fact that the surgically precise interventions failed in some cases, as in the case of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Belgrade, which failed to pass the electoral threshold to enter the city assembly on time. This will, however, be rectified through repeated elections at 16 polling stations, the very same polling stations where this party failed to pass the threshold – just another strange coincidence. And yet, reacting to the complaints filed by LDP at the polling stations where the electoral threshold was not passed, the City Electoral Commission (GIK) immediately accepted the complaints, and voting will be repeated, together with the second round of presidential elections. Hence, the electoral turnout is secured. All the old buddies will once again be in the same team. A part of the job – the one pertaining to LDP, was taken over by GIK, while the second part will be carried out by Dragan Djilas personally. He will include his friends from the United Regions of Serbia (URS) in “his quota” justifying such a move by claiming that “there is no party division of the booty”. Yet his quota nevertheless exits, and is sufficient for salvaging his friends, who were way below the census.
All in all, the elections in Serbia were obviously unfair, both regarding the conditions – media, the courts, the prosecution and all monitoring bodies are fully controlled by the authorities – and the election process itself – from the dramatically inaccurate electoral roll, illegal approval of an electoral list (the case of the None of the Above – NOPO electoral list), suspicious bags filled with ballots lying around where they should not be, buying out votes (all over the place, and particularly in the case of the Roma party in Novi Sad), all the way to meddling with the ballots, which is something that almost all parties are complaining about – with the exception of DS. Words should not be wasted on the election propaganda, since it went to the point that Jelena Trivan – the wife of the first private policeman in Serbia – accused the opposition of preparing for war and destabilization of the country. Boris Tadic has been using the very same stupid words in the finale of his campaign. The leading role in this election was taken over by the security services. Everything we have been seeing is their work. This is the very reason why the elections have not been a blatant lie, but, instead, a strategically measured fraud, fine-tuning of the results and calculated intimidation of citizens. The thing that gave them away is this precise handicraft on one side, and arrogance and sloppiness of omnipotent authorities on the other.
The latter led to a rather painful situation for each citizen of this country. Listening to Dragan Sutanovac in the TV show Utisak Nedelje (Impression of the Week), and expecting that the deputy leader of the Democratic Party will offer evidence that the bags with ballots were a fraud, or to confirm what the Prosecution spokesman, Tomo Zoric, said – that the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) did not even submit the material (evidence) to the police, Sutanovac defended his cause as if all 7 million citizens of this country have gone totally insane. He did not refute the existence of the ballots found in the bags, which were shown to the public by SNS, claiming instead something rather spectacular: that SNS organized 8400 people, and that each of them stole one ballot from his or her polling station and brought it into the party headquarters. And this is the origin of that bag of ballots! If Nikolic and his people are such good organizers, that they can control 8400 people tasked with stealing one ballot each, he should be elected president of a much bigger country than Serbia. Not to mention that even the one missing vote should have been noted, at least somewhere.
We can analyze the situation in two ways: from a hypothetical point of view –accepting that the electoral results are correct; and realistically – that the results were forged – something that is much more probable, as we already said.
The hypothetical point of view
If we knew how the citizens actually voted, we could make assessments about their choices and tendencies as to the direction the society wants to move in at this time. If the election results were correct, we might conclude that the citizens are insensitive to their own unhappiness, and that the same old rule still applies – I will vote for you when you come into power. In that case, the focus would be the authoritarianism of the electorate itself – the fact that it always votes for those who are in power, for the police and the state budget, regardless of the fact that the outgoing government has been bad and governed disastrously.
The second conclusion could be that the Electoral Law was responsible for the election results, because the voters cannot grasp the secret strategies and arrangements of the parties in power, thus failing to understand that regardless of what party they vote for (and these parties play the game together), they also vote for the main party, in this case – the Democratic Party, which led the government that caused them the most damage. The Electoral Law makes it possible for the citizens to truly not know whom they voted for, because, after the electoral ‘survey’, the government is made in accordance with a secret agreement, while the electorate remains a passive observer.
The third conclusion could also be that after October 5, a new opposition was not formed, but what remained was the same opposition as the one in the nineties. The voters do not want to vote for this new/old opposition, and, having nothing else to turn to, they are caught in the vicious circle of the so-called lesser and bigger evil, voting for the lesser evil, keeping in charge those who have proven to perform badly when in power. The only attempt to form a new opposition to the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), as the two largest parties after October 5, was the founding of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). When LDP abandoned its critical position and moved to the side of the regime, only the old opposition remained, which no longer fits the new times and new expectations. This “closed” situation gave birth to white votes. The awareness has grown of the fact that the government did everything in its power to prevent the creation of an alternative, which is evident in the state of affairs in the media, the dissolution of judicial institutions, in limiting the rights to political organization and the personal rule of Tadic, which is responsible for these regressive processes.
The realistic view
What conclusion can we draw from these elections, if we take into account the fact that the results were tuned, and the elections unfair? It is a rather simple one, and partially contrary to the first: it is not so much about the authoritarianism of citizens, but about the fact that the authoritarian rule has been once again set up in Serbia, thanks to those who have been leading the country. There is no control and replaceability of government, democracy has failed to survive. This simple statement carries within itself a strong impulse, and is rather dramatic on its own. Theoreticians claim that, after the overthrow of an authoritarian regime, the first phase that follows is electoral democracy (replaceability of government). Later, in the second phase, comes the hard work of establishing independent institutions. Have we not conquered this first phase irrevocably? It appears not. It is not easy to face such reality. Somehow, it looks like we have come back to the same point we were in the past, the point from which the fight for democracy began so many years ago, the fight in which some lost their lives.
Who bears the responsibility for the fact that democracy, that key, maybe only legacy of October 5 in Serbia, has failed? Reacting to the news about unfair elections, Ivica Dacic angrily spoke about October 5, wondering what that date brought our people. According to him – nothing; this repulsive story is over, no way we are going to repeat October 5 again! While it is being forgotten, clearly on purpose, that the Prime Minister of Serbia had been assassinated, in order to prevent this country from modernizing, and to disallow the change of our cultural code (national-authoritarian). Democracy, freedom, open horizons – are neither part of that identity, nor something inherent to those who have been ruling this country. Two parties have been working hard on banishing democracy from Serbia – DSS and DS, until it was thrown out of the window, with the wholehearted help of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).
After these elections, the situation has changed dramatically. The most important question will be – how and where to find the counterbalance to the authoritarian regime renewed by DSS and DS, one after the other, until they fully reconstructed the old authoritarianism, that inevitable identity, naively called nationalism. The question now is: what should we do with the new-old challenges?
Vesna Pešić, političarka, borkinja za ljudska prava i antiratna aktivistkinja, sociološkinja. Diplomirala na Filozofskom fakultetu u Beogradu, doktorirala na Pravnom, radila u Institutu za društvene nauke i Institutu za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, bila profesorka sociologije. Od 70-ih pripada peticionaškom pokretu, 1982. bila zatvarana sa grupom disidenata. 1985. osnivačica Jugoslovenskog helsinškog komiteta. 1989. članica Udruženja za jugoslovensku demokratsku inicijativu. 1991. članica Evropskog pokreta u Jugoslaviji. 1991. osniva Centar za antiratnu akciju, prvu mirovnu organizaciju u Srbiji. 1992-1999. osnivačica i predsednica Građanskog saveza Srbije (GSS), nastalog ujedinjenjem Republikanskog kluba i Reformske stranke, sukcesora Saveza reformskih snaga Jugoslavije Ante Markovića. 1993-1997. jedna od vođa Koalicije Zajedno (sa Zoranom Đinđićem i Vukom Draškovićem). 2001-2005. ambasadorka SR Jugoslavije, pa SCG u Meksiku. Posle gašenja GSS 2007, njegovim prelaskom u Liberalno-demokratsku partiju (LDP), do 2011. predsednica Političkog saveta LDP-a, kada napušta ovu partiju. Narodna poslanica (1993-1997, 2007-2012).