Category Archives: Serbia

Serbia – Government composition

On Friday, the parliament of Serbia approved the new government. B92 reports that the government was approved by 142 votes to 72 with 26 abstentions.

The Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić, is from the SPS (Socialist Party of Serbia). There are six parties in the government, including the SPS. The party composition (excluding the PM) from Wikipedia is as follows:

  • SPS, 4 ministries
  • SNS (Serbian Progressive Party), 6 ministries
  • SDPS (Social Democratic Party of Serbia), 1 ministry
  • PUPS (Party of United Pensioners of Serbia), 1 ministry
  • G17+, 3 ministries
  • There are 2 independent minister, both nominated by the SNS
  • There is a non-cabinet minister from SDAS (Party of Democratic Action of Sandžak )

It is worth noting that the SPS and PUPS fought the election as part of a coalition. So, it is not surprising to see both in the coalition.

Links to the party composition of previous Serbian governments can be found here.

Serbia – New government

In Serbia, concurrent presidential and legislative elections were held on 6 May. The new president is Tomislav Nikolić from the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). He beat incumbent president Boris Tadić of the Democratic party.

The legislative election did not generate a majority. Initially, Boris Tadić looked like he would be able to form a coalition opposed to President Nikolić and the SNS. This would have generated a period of cohabitation. However, the kingmakers were the Socialists (SPS) and they were unable to reach an agreement this time with Tadić.

As a result, negotiations started between the SNS and the SPS. B92 reports that they have now reached a conclusion. There will be a four-party coalition that includes the United Regions of Serbia (URS) and the United Pensioners of Serbia (PUPS) party too. So, cohabitation has been avoided. There are some details of the coalition agreement here.

The investiture vote will be taken later this month. The government should have a secure majority. That said, the PUPS party only agreed to join the coalition at the very last minute. If it withdraws at any time during the legislature, then the government’s majority would be very small.

Serbia – Defeated president likely to be new PM

Just over a week ago Tomislav Nikolić of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won the presidential election, defeating the incumbent president, Boris Tadić of the Democratic Party (DS). Now, it appears as if Tadić is likely to become the new PM.

Initially, Tadić said that he was not interested in being PM. However, according to B92, Tadić has changed his mind and the the DS now intends to propose Tadić as PM when parliament convenes. The DS will not ally with the SNS. So, the government will be formed by whether the DS or the SNS wins the support of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

Since the presidential election, there have been reports of meetings between the SNS and the SPS. However, there have been more persistent reports of the DS-SPS coalition being renewed. Balkan Insight reports the leader of the SPS, Ivica Dačić, as saying that he wants Tadić to be PM. If so, there would be a period of cohabitation.

Serbia – Presidential election 2nd round

In Serbia, the second round of the presidential election was held on Sunday.

Here are the results of the presidential election based on nearly all votes counted and as reported in B92:

Tomislav Nikolić (Serbian Progressive Party, SNS) – 49.51%
Boris Tadić (Democratic Party, DS) – 47.35%

So, the incumbent president has been defeated. The big question now is what happens to the government?

In the legislative election just two weeks ago, the seats were distributed as follows:

SNS-led coalition – 73 seats
The DS-led coalition – 67 seats
Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)-led coalition – 44 seats
Democratic Party of Serbia – 21 seats
Liberal Democratic Party – 19 seats
United Regions of Serbia – 16 seats
Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians – 5 seats
Others – 4 seats
Total – 250 seats

Prior to the second round of the presidential election, there was general agreement that the government would be a coalition of the DS and the SPS. To gain a majority, there was talk that representatives of the smaller parties would be included.

However, the SNS has now won the presidential election. Moreover, the SNS coalition will be the largest group in the new parliament. So, presumably, they will get the first chance to form the government. Again, the SPS is likely to get the chance to play kingmaker.

At this point, it is at least possible that the new president could begin his term with a period of cohabitation. However, Tadić has declared that he will not serve as PM.

It is worth bearing in mind that the Serbian president has very few constitutional powers. Using Siaroff’s measure of presidential power, I gave Serbia a score of just 2 in a chapter here.

Serbia – Presidential and legislative elections

In Serbia, concurrent presidential and legislative elections were held on Sunday.

Here are the results of the presidential election based on nearly all votes counted and as reported in B92:

Boris Tadić (Democratic Party, DS) – 25.33%
Tomislav Nikolić (Serbian Progressive Party, SNS) – 24.99%
Ivica Dačić (Socialist Party of Serbia, SPS) – 14.24%

I do not have the figures for the other candidates. However, the second round run-off will feature the incumbent president, Boris Tadić, and Tomislav Nikolić.

As for the parliamentary elections, these are the figures from CeSID:

SNS-led coalition – 73 seats
The DS-led coalition – 68 seats
SPS-led coalition – 45 seats
Democratic Party of Serbia – 20 seats
Liberal Democratic Party – 20 seats
United Regions of Serbia – 16 seats
Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians – 5 seats
Others – 3 seats

So, the two questions are: who will win the presidential run-off and who will form the coalition in parliament?

The two questions are clearly linked. The Socialist Party (SPS) is the kingmaker. The suggestion is that Tadić will gain the support of the SPS and that the government will be a coalition between the DS, SPS, the United Regions of Serbia party, and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians. While this would produce a parliamentary majority, whether it will be enough to secure the victory of Tadić in the presidential election is another matter.

The second round of the presidential election will take place on 20 May.

Serbia – President steps down

President Boris Tadić has resigned, precipitating a presidential election. The election will take place on 6 May at the same time as the parliamentary and local elections.

There seems to be a good chance that Tadić will be re-elected. SETimes confirms that Tadić is more popular than his own Democratic Party. In this context, his decision to step down is being seen as a strategy to help bolster support for the Democrats at the legislative election.

Art. 116 of the 2006 constitution states that “No one shall be elected to a position of the President of the Republic more than twice.” Tadić was elected in 2004 and 2008. However, he has only been elected once under the current constitution. Therefore, he is eligible to stand again.

The acting president is Slavica Đukić Dejanović, the President of the National Assembly.

 

Serbia – Cabinet meetings by telephone

There is an interesting article in Balkans Today about how the Serbian government is now functioning.

The report states that no fewer than 421 of a total of 597 formal cabinet meetings have taken place by telephone since July 2008. Moreover, the report states that these ‘incorporeal’ meetings have decided important matters relating to the recent state of emergency because of the bad weather, negotiations with the IMF, changes to criminal law and so on.

I am sure that ‘incorporeal’ cabinet meetings exist elsewhere, as I remember reading an article about then in the context of the Irish government. However, the figure quoted in the article seems high.

That said, if the time period is July 2008 to the end of December 2011, then that is 42 months. This means there have been 176 corporeal meetings over this period, or just over four a month, or just over one a week, i.e. a pretty normal and regular schedule.

So, whereas the article gives the impression that telephone meetings are replacing corporeal meetings, this impression may be a little misleading.

Serbia – Government reshuffle

There has been a major government reshuffle in Serbia. The prime minister, Mirko Cvetković, remains in place but he has taken the position of Finance Minister as well.

The coalition remains unchanged, but there has been a major reduction in the number of ministers from 24 to 17. The names of the government ministers are available here.

B92 reports that parliament approved the government on 15 March by 129 to 19 and no abstentions with only the Democratic Party of Serbia officially opposing the government. However, many of the 250 deputies stayed away.

There have been large anti-government protests in the last few weeks, mainly in relation to the country’s poor economic situation. In February deputy prime minister, minister of economy and leader of the ruling coalition G17 Plus party, Mladjan Dinkić, was sacked by PM Cvetković for the party’s criticism of the prime minister’s handling of the economic situation.

Cohabitation – Serbia

This is a series of posts that records the cases of cohabitation in countries with semi-presidential constitutions. Cohabitation is defined as the situation where the president and prime minister are from different parties and where the president’s party is not represented in the cabinet. Presidents classed as non-party cannot generate any periods of cohabitation.

Here is the list of cohabitations in Serbia. The story is a little complicated.

On 3 June 2006 Montenegro declared independence from the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. This left Serbia (and its various constituent parts, including Kosovo) alone in the Union. The State Union Constitution was parliamentary. (The text is available here). Within the State Union both Serbia and Montenegro had their own constitutions and both were semi-presidential. (A post will follow on another occasion). Following Montenegro’s departure, on 8 November 2006 Serbia adopted a new constitution, replacing the State Union document. This document is semi-presidential. So, as far as I understand, it Serbia, as a stand-alone country, comes into existence in November 2006.

Meanwhile, in March 2004, following the legislative elections in December 2003, Vojislav Koštunica from the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) had become prime minister heading a minority government, while in June 2004 Boris Tadić from the Democratic Party (DS) had been elected president. Thus, within Serbia under the State Union there was cohabitation from June 2004. When Serbia adopted its new constitution in late 2006 the period of cohabitation continued.

There was then a new legislative election in January 2007 and, in May 2007, Koštunica was returned as prime minister, but this time with a government that included the DS. So, cohabitation ended in May 2007.

The government details are taken from Daniel Bochsler, ‘The parliamentary election in Serbia, 21 January 2007’, Electoral Studies, vol. 27 (2008), 160-165.

So, here is the list of cohabitations in Serbia when the country a.) had a semi-presidential constitution and b.) when the State Union with Montenegro had ended:

Nov 2006 – May 2007
President – Boris Tadić (DS); PM – Vojislav Koštunica (DSS); Government – DSS, G17+, SPO, and NS

Party abbreviations:

DS – Demokratska stranka (Democratic Party)
DSS – Demokratska stranka Srbije (Democratic Party of Serbia)
G17+
NS – Nova Srbija (New Serbia)
SPO – Srpski pokret obnove (Serbian Renewal Movement)

Serbia – Local elections

In Serbia partial local elections were held on 7 June. Pescanik.net has a good report and outlines the background.

Basically, last July’s legislative election changed the government from a coalition of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS-NS) and the Democratic Party (DS) to a coalition of the DS and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). A report on the 2008 legislative election is available in Electoral Studies, vol. 28, 2009, pp. 141-145.

Local elections had been held generally in May 2008. There is an overview here. In two Belgrade municipalities, Voždovac and Zemun, and the town of Kosjerić, the local elections returned an SRS/SPS majority. When the coalition changed at the national level the SPS changed sides and voted down the administration in the municipalities. This necessitated new elections.

The pescanik.net post has the full results. The basic point is that the For a European Voždovac (ZES) coalition, which is supported by the pro-EU President Boris Tadić and which is dominated by the DS lost votes compared with the 2008 legislative election (maybe this is not the best comparison, but this is the only one provided). The SPS (with their PUPs-JS allies in their coalition) did relatively well in terms of their national-level vote in 2008, but again the comparison may not be appropriate. Certainly, Balkan Insight reports that the result may destabilise the ruling coalition.

The analysis from pescanik.net seems to be that there is a growing bipolarisation around, on the one hand, the DS, on the moderate left, with more left-wing allies in the SPS and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and, on the other hand, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which was seen to have done quite well in the elections, with the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS). The SRS did very badly at the local elections.