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Serbia in the broken mirror
Careful opposition

by Milan Milosevic

While the opposition parties are double-checking their tactics, the regime parties are gathering their membership through congressional preparations.

After the leaders of 16 opposition parties and coalitions had signed an agreement in the headquarters of SPO on January 10, requesting early elections on all levels by the end of April, the president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Vojislav Kostunica, invited the signatories to come to his party offices on January 19 to discuss their future strategy and tactics. Kostunica thinks that Serbia's opposition should fight for early democratic elections on all levels with "well thought-out, solid and patient moves," according to him, carelessness and impatience might only prolong the agony. He said that this was not true only of the decisions on elections, but also that he was afraid that the unsuccessful protests of the Alliance for Changes (AFC) had only wasted energy. COORDINATION: The second half of January is characterized by numerous meetings of the opposition parties, their coordination and consultations. On January 27, Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic will meet in Banja Luka with the representatives of Diaspora and the Serbian opposition. The president of the Council for Democratic Changes (VDPS/S), Dusan Batakovic, stated that at the January 22 Diaspora meeting, the representatives of Diaspora would adopt an "operative agreement on Diaspora's participation in the political changes in Serbia," and that the aid of one million dollars that Diaspora promised at the Saint Andrea meeting, "will not be distributed to individual political parties, but rather to a united democratic movement." On January 19, in the Budva "Mogren" Hotel, there will be a meeting between the Serbian opposition's common working group, and the Montenegrin authorities, and the EU and the U.S. representatives... One might say that that the opposition parties have formed several groups among themselves. After having left AFC in October of last year, the Social-democratic Party (SD) is now negotiating to unite with the Alliance of Democratic Parties (SDP). Kostunica seems to be quite lonely "for the time being," simply because he does not show any intention to enter a coalition. MOBILIZATION: The SD leaders say that they are negotiating on uniting with some trade unions, announcing that they will soon initiate an action called "100,000 social-democrats in three months." This is quite rare that an opposition party announces its intention to become more numerous, particularly because the ruling party has already been quicker than the opposition in renewing its party network. The Socialists have been organizing pre-congress election conferences in Serbia's provincial towns and municipalities (these days they were held in Kosovska Mitrovica, Aleksandrovac, Merosina, etc). They claim that SPS has 600,000 members. The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) issued a statement informing that the party municipal boards would designate 1,000 delegates to take part in the Fifth Fatherland Congress on January 23. This party claims to have 200,000 members and 190 municipal boards. LOCAL TRAP: It is quite clear that possible participation of the opposition in local elections represents a very sensitive question (other such issues are the current situation of the media, particularly the local ones, and the cooperation with the non-governmental organizations). Referring to the conclusions of the democratic opposition Round Table, held on October 21 of last year, DSS is pleading against the participation in the local elections held individually, contending that this "would be fatal for the political life in Serbia," and would mean a "direct fall into a trap prepared by the socialist regime." Kostunica believes that the republican elections are too risky for the Socialists, because they would put their ruling position in jeopardy. So, he thinks that after their congress, the Socialists will schedule only local elections, in the attempt to disunite the opposition parties. At the moment when this text is written, we don't know the result of the opposition parties meeting, but it seems that the representatives of SPO, AFC and SDP do not dismiss the possibility of participating in the local elections if they are scheduled individually. One of Vuk Draskovic's advisers, Miladin Kovacevic, stated at the press conference last Tuesday that it is "almost certain" that the opposition would have only one list for the potential local elections, and that so united, it will defeat the ruling coalition even in the towns where SPS still holds the power. The president of GSS and one of the leaders of AFC, Goran Svilanovic, has stated: "We will have only one opposition election list and it will be victorious." Djindjic has said that the unity of the opposition is more important than any other profit. The AFC coordinator, Zarko Korac, has stressed that some member parties of AFC, like the Alliance of the Vojvodina Hungarians, might lose a lot if they did not participate in the local elections. RUNNING START FOR THE CONGRESS: It is not quite clear what the regime has decided to do. SRS's president Vojislav Seselj keeps saying that his party wants local elections to be held in the spring, but he also states that SPS and YUL have not offered to have a joint list with them for the local elections, so SRS is planning to run individually. The SPS spokesman, Ivica Dacic, has commented on the opposition's request for early elections, that it is "ridiculous to demand elections in the election year" assessing that this was simply "an attempt to deceive the people." By making this agreement the opposition parties have made the leadership of the regime nervous, so the high state officials and the regime media commenced campaign aimed at demonizing the opposition. One of the operatives in this slandering campaign, prime minister of Serbia Mirko Marjanovic, made an interesting slip last week when he made one of his speeches: he wanted to ridicule the opposition, but instead of saying the "lying opposition," he said the "careful opposition."

Source: Vreme news

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