08/12/2002 - Analysis
On 13th October Vojislav Kostunica won 66.67% of the votes cast, significantly ahead of his adversary Miroljub Labus who won 31.05% of the vote. However the second round of the presidential election was annulled because of the low level of participation. This only amounted to 45.08% of those registered ie 5% less than the minimum required by Serbian electoral law for the election to be valid. On 5th November the Serb Parliament voted in a modification to the electoral law. Although it does not plan for a minimum participation in the second round of the election it has maintained the minimum participation rate of 50% (plus one vote) in the first round. On 8th December the first round of the Serbian presidential election will take place.
Following the invalidation of the second round on 13th October the Federal President Vojislav Kostunica and the Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjic agreed to resolve the political crisis and normalise their relations. "The coalition of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Vojislav Kostunica's movement, are determined to contribute to the improvement of the running of the Parliament of Serbia in order to enable the Assembly to continue its activities" confirms the text of the agreement. The 45 representatives of the Democratic Party of Serbia who were dismissed by Parliament on 7th June were re-integrated within the coalition of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. In compensation for this, the DSS representatives accepted not to table a censure motion against Zoran Djindjic's government. A few days previous to that on 16th October the Constitutional Court of Yugoslavia suspended the representatives' dismissal. As for Zoran Djindjic, he is prepared to support the candidature of Vojislav Kostunica in the presidential election if an agreement is found on the reforms.
On the 11th November, Miroljub Labus, deputy-Prime Minister of the Federal Government and a close colleague of Zoran Djindjic announced that he was not going to take part in the presidential election of Serbia and that he was leaving the Democratic Party (DS). "I left the DS today because it rejected me during the presidential election in October," he declared referring to the boycott of the election by Zoran Djindjic's movement.
The Republican electoral Commission (RIK) accepted the candidature of three personalities on 18 November for the Presidential election on 8th December :
Vojislav Kostunica, President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) ;
Borislav Pelevic, leader of the Serb Unity Party (SSJ) ;
Vojislav Seselj, president of the Radical Party (SRS).
Vojislav Kostunica will therefore face two ultra-nationalists in the first round. The federal President should win this election a priori if however the Serbs decide not to stay away from the ballot boxes after all of these repeat elections.
On 28th November, Javier Solana, High Representative for Foreign Policy for the EU met with Vojislav Kostunica and Zoran Djindjic in Belgrade in order to evaluate the state of progress of the work leading to the establishment of a new "State of Serbia and Montenegro" that is to replace the present Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Javier Solana also met Milo Djukanovic, outgoing President of Montenegro and future Prime Minister. On 7th November the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe rejected Yugoslavia's membership since the country has not fulfilled the conditions they established ie the adoption of the future State's Constitutional Charter. It also called on the Federal Republic to "show a true and determined desire to collaborate fully with the International Criminal Court for Ex-Yugoslavia in The Hague." The Federal President, Vojislav Kostunica answered this by recommending "the transfer of some of the proceedings undertaken by the ICC over to the national legal system". On 20th November Carla Del Ponte, the ICC's prosecutor also denounced the military protection that Ratko Mladic is taking advantage of. The former Serb military chief of Bosnia-Herzegovina is supposed to be in Serbia but is being protected by a part of the army "with the government's total agreement," confirmed Carla Del Ponte.
Serbia still has many problems to solve before it can envisage joining the Council of Europe or furthering the development of its relations with the EU and the international institutions. Vojislav Kostunica and Zoran Djindjic have just admitted that they did not have the means for both of them to withdraw from the political scene and have agreed to work together in the country's interest. Let us hope that this new presidential election in December will enable Serbia to take another step towards stability and the reforms that she is in dire need of today.