While the inter-party dialogue on the conditions for holding the elections next April is coming to an end in Serbia, maybe it is time for one of our small contributions. Here are some suggestions on what the campaign and vote for the President of Serbia, the Parliament and local authorities in Belgrade should look like:
The elections are held without OSCE observers, and the elections are held without domestic organizations specialized in monitoring them, because they have been declared “foreign agents”. Leaders of major opposition parties cannot physically participate in the campaign and elections, because they were either in prison or had to leave the country under pressure. All sites promoting anti-government views and politicians will be blocked, and large digital companies such as Google and Apple will be pressured to remove all political messages and advertisements criticizing the government from their platforms. It will be possible to insert an unlimited number of ballots at the polling station if you are hidden behind the state flag, and a member of the election board shields that scene by standing between you and the security camera.
Terrible, you will say, this is out of the question, this is pure repression. Serbia is light-years away from such a theater of elections. In fact, there are no elections under such measures.
It is true that this “proposal of election conditions” has nothing to do with Serbia, it is quite shocking to ask for something like this in 2021. However, it has to do with Russia and it is only a brief description of the conditions under which parliamentary elections were held, and Putin’s United Russia won convincingly. However, our small “prank” with the transplantation of Russian election conditions into Serbian politics is not an unsavory joke. It is quite logical because a number of fierce fighters for fair election conditions in Serbia at the same time stand for as much Russia in Serbia as possible, consider that country a role model, and its leader as a leader and protector of small nations. In any case, they consider Russia a model according to which the Serbian political shirt should be sown.
The entire right wing of the Serbian opposition scene, if there are centrists and the leftists in it at all, heartily inherits the values of the new Russia, that of Putin. In the vocabulary of socialist self-government, they are both “ideologically and action-wise” followers of the ruling Russian party and its undisputed leader. With one small difference. They would transplant everything that exists from Russia, but not their election conditions, because under those conditions, not only would they not be able to do anything in the elections, but they would be prevented from participating in them. One way or another. Many of them have already been tried in practice and are quite effective.
How is it possible then, that negotiations on election conditions in Serbia are full of fans of Putin and United Russia, except for a small part of the election conditions? Where did the idea come from that everything Russian is welcome in Serbia, except for the key one because of which the same Russia and its leader are where they are and why their fans from Serbia admire them?
A good part of the opposition in Serbia reckons that it will grow on the wings of a truly widespread pro-Russian sentiment among voters. They proudly present themselves as the only authentic representatives of the new Russian project in Serbia, sometimes getting into fierce quarrels over who is true to the fate and who has the right to legitimize themselves in that way. They gladly travel to Russia and meet with politicians from the establishment and return to Serbia sharing photos with those people, like some licenses that they are the authorized importers of those political goods.
But at the same time, they are looking for electoral conditions that rule in Europe, for themselves and Serbia. Regardless of whether they participate in meetings with EU parliamentarians, or out of aversion to “foreign interference”, they participate in another, domestic negotiating dialogue, they are equally angry with the EU because it did not put enough pressure on Aleksandar Vučić and forced him to give in to opposition demands. And those demands are really trivial when compared to the Russian political reality, which they would gladly apply in Serbia as well.
United Russia is a political and state-building role model to, for example, Dveri, which signed a cooperation agreement with them in 2016, or the Serbian Party Zavetnici, which has a similar agreement with the Russians from 2017, at one time, on behalf of DSS, Sanda Rašković-Ivić, today a member of Vuk Jeremić’s People’s Party, signed a cooperation agreement with United Russia. The ruling Serbian Progressive Party also has a party agreement with United Russia, not one, but two. The first was signed by Tomislav Nikolić, as an opposition leader in 2010, and the second by Marko Đurić eight years later.
However, for all those years, the SNS did not translate the Russian recipe into the state policy of Serbia, it preserved party cooperation as its “private” thing, and it conducts state affairs according to the European model, not the Russian one. Including the openness for members of the European Parliament to participate in the negotiations on election conditions. This is probably one of the most important reasons why pro-Russian politicians in Serbia often complain about Vučić to Russian authorities, saying that he is not their sincere partner, that he is turned to the West and that Moscow should deny him support.
They would certainly do it differently if they just had the chance. Only to achieve electoral victory under the full-blooded European election conditions, which they are eagerly seeking, and then they would apply everything from the agenda that they imported from the east and which is close to their hearts. Including the conditions of the election theater from the beginning of the text.