Foto: Predrag Trokicić
Photo: Predrag Trokicić


A part of the opposition has decided to participate in the so-called unified elections based on the promise that everything will be alright. The elections were announced at the end of last week (they have not yet been formally proclaimed), and part of the opposition immediately decided to participate and, thus, gave up the fight to force the regime to improve the election conditions. By the way, that story about the fight for better election conditions had previously been so ubiquitous that they felt they had to justify their decision to participate in the election by saying that the regime promised (wow, “promised”) that conditions will be better. Then came the claim: the conditions are already better than they were in December. And at the end came the recognition: whatever the conditions may be, and it’s clear that they won’t be good, or even better than they were, we are going to participate.

It’s clear that election conditions won’t get any better as long as the neo-Radical regime with Vučić at the helm is in full force. And it is in full force precisely because the conditions are the way they are – meaning horrible. At the end of the day, with Vučić at the head of Serbia, nothing about the elections will change. Which, according to one part of the opposition, means that we need to participate in them, no matter the conditions, until we win. The thing is that the conditions are “designed” to make it impossible to defeat Vučić electorally. In addition, if that’s the case and we just have to participate no matter what, what was the point of all that tension from the previous four months, from December until now?

When exactly did it become clear that Vučić would not fix anything about the elections? A week ago; a month ago; half a year ago… or did we always know it? Because, if we knew it half a year ago, or even always, then why didn’t we accept the results of the December elections? Because the regime was caught in election theft? Well, we knew they were stealing. But now we have proven it. True, but that evidence is now no longer valid, because part of the opposition has come to terms with the fact that with or without evidence, the regime will not give up the theft and will not change anything about the elections. We should remember that participation in the elections on June 2 means complete normalization, even affirmation, of the elections from December 17. The regime now has carte blanche.

Furthermore, it is all but certain that the opposition will fare worse in the elections in Belgrade now than it did on December 17. Considering everything, the conclusion is unequivocal – the results of December 17 should have just been accepted. This way, the regime’s hold on Belgrade, which was seriously shaken on December 17, will recover and strengthen itself on June 2. From the almost elections on December 17 which it all but “won”, the opposition will return to its earlier “losing” positions, and they will have nobody to blame for this but themselves. And in the end, it will not be possible to invoke any kind of pressure from the outside, because it will not make sense for anyone outside of Serbia, at least for a while, to get involved on behalf of people who do not even know what they want.

The last line of defense of the “electoral” opposition – the claim that we need our representatives in institutions, because that’s where the interests of the people of Serbia are protected – is worthless. Already a decade of experience has shown us that a simple majority is enough for the neo-Radicals to act as if they were alone in the institutions where decisions are made. We don’t need to travel far into the past, we just need to look at the current temporary government in Belgrade. Are there opposition representatives in it? There are. Does that affect its decisions? It doesn’t. Therefore, simply being in the institutions, if you are a minority and the neo-Radicals are the majority, is completely useless for the citizens of Serbia.


But that’s only half the story. When a part of the opposition decided to participate in the elections, it completely eradicated the threat of boycott. Everything that the opposition stood for from December to April became worthless. None of the demands of the part of the opposition which will not participate in the elections (in Belgrade) on June 2 are relevant anymore. And not only that, that part of the opposition has to be quiet. Because whatever they say about not participating in the elections on June 2 (and there is a lot to say that is reasonable and justified) won’t be accepted as an argument, but as a campaign against the opposition participating in the elections. The reverse is also true, for now the focus of the campaign of the “electoral” opposition is dealing with those who decided not to participate. The regime is not the target: they stand quietly on the sidelines, preparing to steal the victory by any means necessary.

That situation alone is bad enough, because when the opposition decided to invalidate their demands for better election conditions, they also threw out the evidence of theft, the story of election control, as well as the possibility of paying attention to new election thefts. The day after the election, on June 3, the “electoral” opposition will be able to talk about many things, but they won’t be able to say one word about election irregularities or theft – because they themselves said that they expect them and that nothing can be done about it. But the same applies to the “non-electoral” opposition, as they are also powerless. But this impotence is not only the result of the decisions of the “electoral” opposition. The decision not to participate in Belgrade elections, but to participate in the (still officially unannounced), local elections throughout Serbia, is also quite dubious.

Despite my best efforts, I can’t come up with an acceptable explanation for not participating in Belgrade elections, but participating in local elections everywhere else. All the reasons that are valid for elections outside Belgrade must also be valid for elections in Belgrade, whether one participates or doesn’t, and vice versa. If the “electoral” opposition stomped all over the logic regarding the fight for electoral conditions, then this other opposition did the same to the logic regarding other local elections. You just have to ask yourself: how will you explain your “no” to Belgrade elections and simultaneously invite your voters to vote outside of Belgrade?

This question is not entirely irrelevant. The opposition which is not participating in the elections tied its own legs before the race for other local elections. And not only that: the people of Belgrade themselves will express their opinion about the elections and the choice to participate by either going out to vote or not. The thing is that this part of the opposition cannot have an active campaign asking people not to vote. First, because it would actually be a campaign against the other part of the opposition and, thus, practically pro regime. Second, more important, you cannot say one thing in Belgrade and something completely different outside of Belgrade. No matter how you think of it, there is no good solution for either part of the opposition. This is how far we’ve come from December 17 until today.


But that’s not the end of the story either. Because, in the end, the people of Serbia, both each for themselves and all together, must decide what to do. On the one hand: the regime steeped in crime. On the other hand – a helpless and self-destructive opposition. Anyone trying to do anything about the apathy of the people of Serbia, and there are now some candidates who claim to be interested in doing so, might first have to show some understanding for that apathy, before putting all the blame for the bad state of affairs in Serbia on its inhabitants and their mental state. The people of Serbia should now be more mature than their political representatives and choose wisely. They probably are more mature, but there is one big problem. Each of them doesn’t know and can hardly find out what their neighbours and compatriots think. Among other things, this is what political parties are for, to connect like-minded people.

The people of Serbia should, therefore, stand in unison, as the opposition has failed to do, and either go out and vote en masse, or boycott the election en masse. Neither will happen. This is where following the “united” opposition would be useful (because, as we said, this is what political parties are for). In places where the opposition is participating in the elections, united on one or more lists, the people of Serbia should massively support it. Where there is no such agreement, everyone will act as they think is best. And perhaps the best thing would be to punish the pointlessly disunited opposition with a boycott. Anywhere they failed to agree, especially in Belgrade.

Translated by Marijana Simić

Pešč, 30.04.2024.

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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), „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016), „Fantastična škola. Novi prilozi za drugačiji kurikulum: SF, horror, fantastika“ (2020) i „Srbija u kontinuitetu“ (2020).

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