Serbia: Democrats out, Socialists in

29/06/2012

The mandate to form the new Serbian government has been given to Socialist Party of Serbia leader Ivica Dacic -- pushing former President Boris Tadic into the opposition.

By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 29/06/12

photo

SPS leader Ivica Dacic has taken over the mandate to form the new government. [Reuters]

On May 8th, when Serbia's Socialists and the Democrats signed a coalition agreement after the parliamentary elections, it seemed as though the two parties would easily form a new government. However, that never came to pass.

After the elections, Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic gave his rival, former President Boris Tadic, the mandate, but the talks with the Socialists -- without whom the government will not be easily formed -- ended up dragging on for more than 50 days.

When the Progressives offered Socialist Party of Serbia leader Ivica Dacic the post of prime minister, the Socialists switched sides -- and on Thursday (June 28th), Dacic received the mandate from Nikolic to form the new government.

Nikolic told reporters that the new cabinet must now be formed quickly.

"The Serbian government should be small in size, efficient and responsible, and should decide on matters important for the citizens by agreement," Nikolic said after meeting with Dacic.

Dacic said his cabinet's chief objectives would be "to build a strong state that takes care of national interests, the continuation of European integration, social justice and equality, and the fight against organised crime and corruption."

The new government will be comprised of the Progressive Party, the Socialist Party and the United Regions of Serbia. The latter two parties have been partners with the Democrats in government for the last four years.

Tadic said the problem was that he refused to give the Socialists the post of prime minister.

"The new government has the right to a chance, but the question is -- do the people managing Serbia today have enough knowledge and experience to solve all the serious problems?" he told reporters after the news broke.

Dejan Vuk Stankovic, University of Belgrade professor, told SETimes that the turning point in the talks on forming the government came once the Socialists had gotten "too good of an offer from the Progressive Party."

"The fact is that there are no major political differences between the parties, hence the real question is who can't go with whom, rather than who can go with whom," Stankovic said.

Vladimir Radomirovic, of the Centre for Strategic Analyses, told SETimes that Tadic had not handled matters well after his defeat in the presidential election. "It is not rare in eastern Europe for representatives of the old regime that was removed after mass demonstrations to return to power."

"Some governments of that sort proved to be quite good. Besides, even the EU had nothing against Ivica Dacic's entering into government with Boris Tadic in 2008, and that cabinet was praised in the West as 'pro-European' at the time," Radomirovic said. Citizens also have mixed views.

"The Democrats are the main pro-European force in the country; I don't know if these parties will have quality personnel for running the country," Milorad Trifunovic, 26, told SETimes.

However, Nikola Jankovic told SETimes the new government will be more successful than the previous one. "With the Democrats, the country fell into the clutches of corruption and we are in a very difficult economic situation. I don't know who can miss the Democratic Party."

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In Kosovo, the Nikolic-Dacic alliance reminded some of the similar combination of power in Serbia in the 1990s.

Belul Beqaj, president of European Movement in Kosovo, said this alliance will clarify the relations between Serbia and Kosovo and Albanians and Serbs.

"This current duo will try to transform the situation in the north … the compromise would be the recognition of a [unique] reality, in which two systems would function. One in the north, giving priority to the European laws and the European Charter for local governance and … [one in the rest of Kosovo.] The north would be controlled more from Serbia than Kosovo."

SETimes correspondent Linda Karadaku in Pristina contributed to this report.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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