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)
NS – Nova Srbija (New Serbia)
SPO – Srpski pokret obnove (Serbian Renewal Movement)

2 thoughts on “Cohabitation – Serbia

  1. Reed Rasband

    Dr. Elgie,
    Based on amendments to the Federal Constitution of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) that came into effect in July 2000, the president of the Republic was actually directly elected to a fixed term, while the Prime Minister(confusingly called the President of the Federal Government) and cabinet were accountable to the Federal Assembly. If I am not mistaken, this would make Serbia and Montenegro a semipresidential system as of that year. I am interested in your thoughts on this matter. My source on the constitutional amendments is at the link to HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated below.

  2. Robert Elgie

    Thanks. Yes, I already have Yugoslavia down as semi-presidential from 2000-2003 in my list of historic cases of semi-presidentialism.


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