Serbia: new election, same results

Samuel Aranda/Getty Images Boris Tadic, Serbian president and leader of the coalition “For a European Serbia,” declared victory after elections Sunday in which his party took an estimated 103 of the national assembly’s 250 seats. True, yesterday’s large pro-Europe voting turnout did come as a pleasant surprise to Serbia’s EU supporters. In light of Kosovo’s ...

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595085_080512_kosovo_810532632.jpg

Samuel Aranda/Getty Images

Boris Tadic, Serbian president and leader of the coalition “For a European Serbia,” declared victory after elections Sunday in which his party took an estimated 103 of the national assembly’s 250 seats.

Samuel Aranda/Getty Images

Boris Tadic, Serbian president and leader of the coalition “For a European Serbia,” declared victory after elections Sunday in which his party took an estimated 103 of the national assembly’s 250 seats.


True, yesterday’s large pro-Europe voting turnout did come as a pleasant surprise to Serbia’s EU supporters. In light of Kosovo’s recent, and polarizing, declaration of independence, analysts were predicting a slight lead for Serbia’s ultra nationalist Radical Party (SRS), despite some pretty serious efforts on the part of the EU to win over Serbian voters.


But “victory,” this election was not. If anything, Sunday has shown just how little has changed in Serbia this year — despite Kosovo and despite the EU.


Once again, the SRS, whose founder currently stands trial at the Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, garnered its standard 29 percent of the vote, while the democratic bloc again proved too uninspiring to pull Serbia out of its muck of power hungry political personalities. Just as in Serbia’s elections in January of last year (a vote that produced a strained government lasting less than ten months), its two dominant parties again find themselves courting strange bed fellows to form a majority coalition.  And ironically, this year, it’s a small coalition of Milosevic’s Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and a party of stodgy retirees (PUPS) that will play the role of kingmaker.


But the take away message from Sunday’s results is not one of Milosevic’s inescapable legacy or of inevitable stagnation. Rather, it’s the recognition that Serbia’s future will not be determined from the outside -– by break away provinces or EU promises — but will be decided by Serbia itself. 

Inner change was the message of Serbia’s magnetic former prime minister Zoran Djindjic, a leader with tremendous potential, cut short by his tragic assassination in 2003. But if inspiring leadership in Serbia could happen once, it can happen again –- just probably not from today’s batch of leaders.

Lucy Moore is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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