Serbia: President Tadic Gets Re-Elected

By Veronica Khokhlova

Below is a selection of Anglophone bloggers’ views on the outcome of Serbia’s presidential election.

Eric Gordy of East Ethnia began his analytical piece for OpenDemocracy.net with this summary:

The inconclusive result in in the first round of Serbia’s presidential election on 20 January 2008 led to a second round on Sunday 3 February. Again, there was widespread fear that the extreme-right nationalism represented by the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and its candidate Tomislav Nikolic would score a decisive victory; and just as in the first round, an extraordinarily high turnout prevented that outcome. The incumbent president Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party (DS) squeaked through to re-election with 50,5% to Nikolic’s 47,9%. In doing so Tadic has probably gained a bit of political autonomy in addition to his second five-year mandate, but nothing is secure. [...]

On Jan. 15, Chris Farmer wrote at his B92 blog about his Serbian babysitter’s fears of Nikolic’s victory:

My babysitter has her bags packed.

One fine day, a couple of weeks ago, I heard the announcement that if the Radicals should win the upcoming presidential elections – i.e., Smiling Tommy Nik – that she was ready to pack up and leave the country.

Hm, I told her. [...]

In the comments section to this post, Aleksandar Stosic replied:

Your babysitter is not alone. Many youngsters or middle age Serbs told me the same sentences, nobody wants another war, another cirssis, another inflation, another regional instabilty….
Me personaly, have same feelings every times in pre-elections period. [...]

And Lighthouse expounded on what Stosic wrote:

[...] Your babysitter probably remembers 1992, and that famous exodus of foreign diplomats in a convoy. I also remember. Though not a babysitter, I earned my living owing to foreigners in Belgrade at that time. When they left, I had to close my small business.

So, that is what your babysitter “knows”. So, in case Nick The Undertaker wins, pack up yourself. Prepare to go home, because your babysitter will already be there.

Alan JakÅ¡ić, England-based Croatian Serb aka Balkan Anarchist, was relieved to learn of Tadic’s victory:

[...] Although in an ideal world there would be no states and borders, no governments and politicians, and hence no need for elections, this is a good result. [...]

In his first election day post, Jakšić wrote this about the two candidates and the Diaspora Serbs:

Boris Tadić has proven himself more than capable of running a country in Serbia’s position, bearing in mind its recent past. Under him, Serbia has slowly improved its reputation in the world. And whenever Serbia gets a good word said for her, it’s that much better for us Serbs in the Diaspora and fellow Serbs in neighbouring countries like Croatia, where I come from. Of course, good energy spreads! [...]

[...] according to Serbia’s very own Diaspora Minister Milica ÄŒubrilo, Diaspora Serbs usually vote for the Democratic option. Diaspora Serbs don’t want their country Serbia to go through the instability of the 90s again, and they also don’t want the lives of their relatives back home to again be destabilized. [...]

[...] I really don’t want Nikolić to win. I can understand why many people may vote for him, but they should really think about us in the Diaspora.

Viktor Marković of Belgrade 2.0, exasperated with the constant necessity to choose between “black” and “white,” asked readers to place bets on which candidate was going to win:

It’ not like we’re new to this kind of black/white situation here and it’s getting boring.

But, let’s try and make it more interesting. We’ll organize a small competition here – who ever comes closer to the official results in the comments wins a beer in Belgrade. Losers can join in, of course.

While the winners of Belgade 2.0′s contest haven’t been announced yet, it appears that 23 percent of those who made their bets would have to pay for their own beer: 5 out of 22 voters thought that Nikolic would beat Tadic.

Douglas Muir of A Fistful of Euros “was half hoping for a Nikolic victory, if only to shake things up; it would have been bad in the short run, but might have opened up new possibilities further along.” Here’s what he wrote about the stance that Serbia’s Albanians have taken:

[...] The Albanian minority in the Presevo Valley in South Serbia refused to endorse Tadic either [...]. That’s understandable but unfortunate; when the Albanians refuse to vote in Serbian politics, it lends strength to extremists on both sides. A lot of Albanians in Presevo seem to think they’re going to be part of Kosovo in a few years anyway, swapped for the piece of Kosovo that’s north of the Ibar. That might make sense, but it’s not going to happen for many years, if it ever does, and in the meantime it does them no good to try ignoring the state they’re part of.

Dr. Filomena, a Slovenian blogger, wrote this on the Kosovo issue and the two presidential candidates:

[...] Tadić and Nikolić are not as different in their POV as portrayed, especially when it comes to Kosovo. I will go out on limb to suggest that possibly, Nikolić would have been (will be?) able to negotiate better when the initial after-independence-declaration limited outbursts of violence subside. Then again, I could be wrong.