A 2009 law has stemmed the rate of registering new parties in Serbia, but the political scene remains fractured.
By Katica Djurovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 26/03/12
Experts say most political parties in Serbia have generated others. From the Democratic Party, pictured above at a 2008 election rally, seven parties have emerged. [Reuters]
The number of political parties in Serbia has tripled since a 2009 law created tougher registration rules, creating competitive races for the May 6th election and more uncertain outcomes.
There are 87 political parties in Serbia -- up from 29 since the Law on Political Parties was passed three years ago, when there were 600 political parties. The law raised the number of signatures needed to register a party from 100 to 10,000
"The parties which are now in the parliament or are on the election list have the support of at least 10,000 citizens. It means people trust them," Milan Markovic, minister of human and minority rights, public administration and local government, told SETimes.
In contrast, BiH has 190 political parties, Croatia has 116 and Bulgaria has 177 parties. Macedonia and Greece have 53 and 50, respectively, while Turkey, the region's most populous country, has 27.
Experts say the political fragmentation in Serbia is a result of social tensions and divisions -- nationalist vs EU-oriented, traditional vs modern, majority vs minority, EU vs Kosovo -- as well as other directly competing ideas and ideologies.
"The political scene in Serbia is unstable, dynamic and in conflict. It is not sufficiently institutionalised and stabilised," Belgrade Faculty of Political Sciences Professor Zoran Stojiljkovic told SETimes.
The political scene and the system rely on social division among citizens, he added. As a result, most of the political parties represent different minorities in the country, the most recent being the Bunjevacka Party in Vojvodina and the Bosniak People's Party in Sandzak.
"The main reason for forming a political party is that people do not believe in the existing parties any more. The only solution is a new party which can address the neglected issues of minorities in Serbia," Bosniak People's Party President Mujo Mukovic told SETimes.
Belgrade resident Nebojisa Obrenovic, 30, reflects the widespread view there are already too many parties.
"The number is least important. There could be a thousand parties but they are all more or less preaching the same things and do not do anything for citizens. I feel none deserve my vote," Obrenovic told SETimes.
"Serbia would profit in a political and financial way with fewer parties. At present, Serbia spends too much money on parties that cannot even cross 5% in the elections. At the same time, citizens get confused since they don't know which party to vote for," Stojiljkovic added.