By Igor Jovanovic
The leaders of the Democratic Party (DP) and the Socialist Party of Serbia agreed on Wednesday (May 9th) that their parties will compose the foundation of the future government, which will be formed in detail after the presidential run-off on May 20th.
The two parties, which have up until now been the strongest members of Serbia’s ruling coalition, will likely make Serbia’s EU accession a top priority.
The Democrats won 67 seats in the elections, while the Socialists won 44 of the total 250 seats in parliament. There is talk of the United Regions of Serbia and minority parties as the third partner in the endeavour to form the new government.
“Let’s see the presidential elections through first, and then we can talk about the parliamentary majority. I am confident that Serbia will continue down the safe road,” President Boris Tadic of the DP said after the agreement with the Socialists.
With the agreement, the single strongest party — the opposition Serbian Progressive Party, which won 73 seats Sunday — has practically lost all chance of forming a government.
Moreover, the Socialists agreed to support Tadic in his May 20th runoff against Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic.
“It can now be said that Tadic has secured a significant, if not crucial advantage over Nikolic in the second round, but one cannot say he is the definite winner of the elections. It is up to the citizens to vote, rather than political parties, and some voters may vote against the advice of party leaders. But Tadic is the big favourite now,” Dejan Vuk Stankovic, a University of Belgrade professor, told SETimes.
He went on to say that the new government would maintain continuity with the outgoing one and that its list of priorities will include the economy, the Kosovo issue and attracting foreign investment.
“The economy will be the most urgent matter, because the situation is very bad and all social tensions need to be cooled. But the Kosovo problem is also facing the new cabinet, because Serbia’s European integration will not continue without new agreements with Pristina,” Stankovic said.
Sasa Djogovic, an associate at the Institute for Market Research, also thinks the economy will be the top priority, because Serbia is in recession. The country is seeing a decline in GDP for two consecutive quarters, along with rising unemployment.
“The new government will have to have a clear vision and goal, which will not be founded on virtual assumptions, but rather on real facts, and which will have to solve piled up problems,” Djogovic said in a statement to SETimes, adding that the problems include a poor business climate, large public debt and an oversized and inefficient public sector.
The elections are also coming under increasingly strong accusations regarding the regularity of the voting. Such accusations have been voiced by the Serbian Progressive Party, the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians — a member of the ruling coalition — as well as the Dveri movement, which failed to win seats in parliament.
Nikolic said he would present evidence that “will eliminate the Democratic Party from political life.”
A senior official in the Progressives, Nebojsa Stefanovic, told SETimes “We will present all that we have in the next few days,” but did not elaborate.
DP Vice President Bojan Pajtic said that to him, the accusations of election rigging sounded like “science fiction.”