By Igor Jovanovic
After losing the presidential election runoff last week to Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic, former Serbia President Boris Tadic said he would not consider heading the government as prime minister. On Sunday (May 27th), however, the Democratic Party leader said he was trying to compose a cabinet.
Tadic told reporters Sunday that he was informed by party colleagues and citizens that the main goal of the Democratic Party — the creation of a more just society in Serbia — must not be abandoned, which led to his change of heart.
Vladimir Radomirovic of the Centre for Strategic Alternatives says the possibility that the president and prime minister will be from opposing parties could have a negative impact on the pace of reforms in Serbia.
“As president, Nikolic will take over the helm of the National Security Council, which Tadic had until now used to control the government and important events in the state. Nikolic could use the information obtained at council sessions to present Tadic’s cabinet as incompetent and corrupt, which will be an introduction into clashes over jurisdiction,” Radomirovic told SETimes.
However, he thinks Tadic’s main problem may not necessarily be the opposition, but rather a robust government and the demands made by his coalition partners.
“Serbia is inching towards bankruptcy and the Socialist Party of Serbia, which will be the minor partner in the government, is demanding that the state spend money rather than save it. The problem is that Serbia has no more money to spend. Also, the EU is calling for a fierce clampdown on corruption, which will be practically impossible with a government comprising ten parties,” said Radomirovic.
The balance of power in parliament provides Tadic with a chance to succeed. Prior to the presidential runoff on May 20th, the Democrats negotiated a coalition with the third strongest party in the parliament, the Socialist Party of Serbia.
Now they need a third partner for the coalition, and many expect it to be the pro-European Liberal Democratic Party.
However, that scenario would leave the strongest party in parliament, the Serbian Progressive Party, out of the government.
Now the party claims Tadic is not a good candidate for prime minister.
The post “is more demanding” than the presidential post, and citizens had made it clear in the election that the Democrats’ leader “was not doing that job well either,” Progressive Party official Marko Djuric told SETimes.
“A government not led by the Progressive Party would be a government that did not enjoy the legitimacy and confidence of the citizens and would not have the capacity to implement the necessary reforms,” Djuric added.
However, Democratic Party representatives do not think they lack legitimacy — the government can be formed by the party capable of gathering a majority in parliament, they said.
Meeting with the Socialists on the matter of the government Monday, Tadic discussed the future cabinet’s priorities. “We are defining the core values and code of the government, the objective, plans and distribution of responsibility, as well as its obligations in the first 100 days in office — and also the overall goals regarding negotiations with the EU and the issue of Kosovo,” he said.
Citizens are also divided.
“I think the Democratic Party did not understand what happened to it in the elections. I think the Progressive Party is the winner and people don’t want to see Tadic and his party in power again,” Aleksandar Zekic, a clerk from Belgrade, told SETimes.
But Dragana Savic, a saleswoman, disagreed. “Nikolic won just several tens of thousands of votes more than Tadic. Also, Tadic has a good reputation worldwide and I believe his government can help Serbia,” she told SETimes.