Almost twice times as many citizens said the government is doing a good job fighting crime and corruption compared to eight months ago.
By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 01/02/13
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is spearheading the fight against corruption in Serbia. [AFP]
Serbian citizens increasingly trust state institutions and their capacity to fight corruption since the new government assumed power in July 2012, according to a recent opinion poll.
Belgrade's Centre for Free Elections and Democracy and the UNDP organised the poll, which included a representative sample of 597 citizens.
Thirty-two percent said the government is doing a good job in fighting corruption -- a twofold increase from the poll in June 2012 under the Democratic Party-led government.
A quarter of those polled said they believe corruption has decreased, while 41 percent think corruption will decrease further this year.
Last year, more than 70 percent of citizens said Serbia was headed in the wrong direction, compared to 45 percent now.
"We have not had such optimistic results in years. A significant number of citizens have changed their perception of corruption and have a far more positive outlook now," Marko Blagojevic, program director of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy, told SETimes.
Blagojevic said increased trust in the government occurred after officials began investigating several major corruption affairs, including the case of state-owned Agrobanka where authorities suspect 300 million euros were embezzled.
Under the probe, former ministers Oliver Dulic and Sasa Dragin are facing corruption charges, and Serbian tycoon Miroslav Miskovic was arrested and is currently in custody.
Anti-corruption activities in Serbia are spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Soon after the government was formed, Vucic became head of the office for security services co-ordination, forming a special group of police officers to tackle high-level corruption cases.
"It is important we have managed to change people's perception of the ongoing fight against corruption in the Serbian institutions, at least a little. ... I think we are doing well, although I know our society is a one of sceptices," Vucic said.
Vucic said that 11 new laws necessary to systemically supress coruption will soon be passed.
William Infante, UN resident co-ordinator in Serbia, also lauded the success.
"Serbia is on the right track. The government has shown it is objective and not selective in the fight against corruption. That is what we want, zero tolerance for corruption and no protected individuals," Infante said.
The good results are only the beginning in the long fight ahead, according to Zoran Stoiljkovic, chairman of Serbia's Anti-Corruption Agency Committee.
"This is a relief, but also an indicator of the direction in which the authorities should continue," Stoiljkovic told SETimes.
Nearly two-thirds of those polled said the political parties are most corrupt institutions, closely followed by health care organisations and courts.
Citizens seem satisfied with the government's accomplishments so far.
"Prior to Vucic, no one even dared touch Miskovic. I think his arrest shows that there are no untouchables and that many are now shivering over what they have been doing for the past few years," Danica Vukojicic, a student from Belgrade, told SETimes.