The former president's move was to avoid a split in party ranks.
By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 09/11/12
Boris Tadic withdrew to avoid a party split, he said. [AFP]
Former Serbia President Boris Tadic's withdrawal from the race for Democratic Party (DS) leader will allow the party to consolidate and focus on opposition activities, analysts said.
"The Democratic Party has so far dealt only with its internal affairs, rather than the matters it should be dealing with as an opposition party," Dejan Vuk Stankovic, Belgrade University professor, told SETimes.
Tadic announced his withdrawal on November 4th, saying he wanted to avoid a split in party ranks. The DS was split between Tadic and his rival, Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas. The former leader will probably be a candidate for honorary president.
DS member Bojan Pajtic, who is expected to become Djilas' deputy, told daily Kurir on Wednesday (November 7th) that the new DS will be the main defender of the socially underprivileged, women and minorities and the biggest proponent of social reforms.
"We will be a strong opposition and control in places where we are not a part of the parliamentary majority and a responsible authority in towns we kept the majority," he said.
Pajtic said that the first steps of the new party leader would focus on positioning the party in new political circumstances and securing better communication between the headquarters and local offices of the party.
Dragoljub Micunovic, DS Political Council leader, said the majority of party members were happy that a rift had been avoided. "Only a great and united Democratic Party can be a significant political factor and an alternative to the current authorities," Micunovic told SETimes.
However, two influential Democratic Party members did not support the agreement by Tadic and Djilas. Former Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic withdrew from the party, saying "there is no more democracy in it." UN General Assembly Chairman Vuk Jeremic said the party could not be led by an agreement between two men "because that is not a democratic process."
The ruling parties were reserved in their comments on Tadic's move, describing it as a personal decision of the former president. Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbian Progressive Party vice president, said the DS would not really change by replacing its leader.
"Without intending to interfere with Democratic Party internal affairs, it is obvious that everyone is getting along fine in that party and there are no differences between them. More or less everyone thinks the same and the Main Committee session demonstrated that nothing is essentially changing in the Democratic Party," Stefanovic told SETimes.
Stankovic said it was too early to say whether the DS will become a threat to the Socialist-led government.
"New party leadership is not enough in democratic systems. We should wait and see new leadership programmes and actions. It would probably take months for serious action against the government."
According to opinion polls, the citizens believe the change at the top of the DS is justified. A survey conducted by the Ninamedia agency showed that 35.7 percent of those polled think Djilas should lead the party, while 30.6 percent backed Tadic. Others were undecided.
Ian Bancroft, TransConflict founder, said that the shift in the leadership would not produce any real changes.
"The DS leadership battle has not been one of ideas, but of loyalty. There has been no profound discussion about what values lie at the core of the party. As such, it is likely to remain prone to opportunism, articulating often-incoherent policy courses and criticisms that are intended merely to win back power," Bancroft told SETimes.