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Ruling coalition is worried

According to sources in the ruling Left coalition, Milosevic made a miscalculation for these elections, believing he would easily defeat the squabbling opposition leaders and their small parties. All sources close to the ruling coalition now say that the results of the September elections will be tight and that these elections will be first ones pitting one strong side against another.

In an effort to win over voters, the Left coalition and its chief, Milosevic, will start their election campaign on Friday by presenting the Kosovo-Metohija Detachment, a military-police unite which should constitute the advance unit for the return of the Serbian police and Army to Kosovo. This promotion should begin with great pomp in Pirot on Friday. The unit in question was set up recently and is headquartered in Leskovac. For now, there are no signs that this unit will really go to Kosovo, but it should have a major propaganda impact, the ruling Left coalition believes.

The Left coalition also expects a big propaganda effect from the upcoming opening of the new bridge in Novi Sad dubbed the Varadin Rainbow. Several days before the elections, the Left coalition will bring together a million people to mark the opening of the bridge, and Milosevic is also scheduled to speak at the ceremony.

The strategic focus of the JUL's and SPS's campaign will be to show the voters that Milosevic's elections will mean stability and safety for them. The JUL and SPS will try to persuade voters that by electing the opposition they would restart a debate about all of the old issues of Serbian politics.

One of the propaganda ploys of the Left coalition is the collection of a million signatures for Milosevic's presidential candidacy. These signatures have been collected in state institutions and public companies, and they do not mean that all the signatories will also vote for Milosevic in a secret ballot. Milosevic will have to find a way of forcing his formal supporters to vote for him in a secret ballot. It is also possible that the ballot will not be secret at some polling stations. Milosevic believes that fear and the prospect of being fired will be enough to force the Serbs to vote for him. The Left coalition has collected about 850,000 signatures for its list of candidates for the Federal Parliament. Its plan is to collect over a million signatures for Milosevic. In the event of poor election results, it would be good evidence that the opposition has rigged the elections, which would be used as pretext for declaring the elections invalid.

"The Government is ready to steal votes in these election. No Serbian government has ever been replaced in elections. Unfortunately, the opposition is incapable of stealing the elections from the regime, nor is it capable of leading the people to demonstrations after the elections. All in all, this is not about free and fair elections but about who can steal with impunity," says a disillusioned SPS source.

Source: B92

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