General, local and presidential elections will be held in Serbia on May 6. Single national lists will enable voters, for the first time, to cast ballots at any polling station in the country. In previous elections, Serbs could vote only at their registered place of residence. Some 70,000 Serbians have joined political parties since the beginning of this election year, taking the total over the 2-million barrier in the country of 7 million, reports balkaninsight.com.
Boris Tadic, Serbia’s president, resigned earlier in March hoping that by holding the elections earlier his Democratic party (DS) would capitalize on Serbia’s success last month in finally gaining the status of a candidate for European Union membership. His move may reinvigorate the chances of DS, writes Financial Times. “His party and its allies are facing a strong challenge from the opposition conservative Serbian Progressive party (SNS).” Boris Tadic and his party have made EU accession a priority since he narrowly won re-election in 2008. Last year, Serbia arrested and extradited the last two ethnic Serb war crimes suspects still at large, including Bosnian Serb wartime commander and genocide suspect Ratko Mladic. A recent poll puts Boris Tadic and his centrist Democratic Party on 26.7%, slightly ahead of Serbian Progressive Party’s Tomislav Nikolić on 25.7%.
“The country of 7.3 million people is still coming to terms with the political and economic legacy of a decade of war and isolation under Milosevic, who was ousted in 2000 and died in 2006 while on trial in The Hague for his role in the wars that tore apart socialist Yugoslavia”, reports EurActiv.com/Reuters. “A bloated public administration, rusting infrastructure and continued tensions with its former Kosovo province has stifled development and deterred investors.”
The Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation has two cooperation partners in Serbia: Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and G17 Plus. The latter is part of an election coalition called the United Regions of Serbia (URS). The leader of the coalition Mladjan Dinkic, used to be Deputy Prime Minister, but left the government earlier this year.
“Decentralization is a core value for URS’s campaign” explaines Tomislav Damnjanovic, G17 Plus Campaign Manager. URS has collected over 600,000 signatures for the decentralization of Serbia and has become a symbol of this objective. “It is often forgotten by Belgraders that this city is not at all popular outside of the capital and is often blamed for bad conditions in the country side. Because of this communities outside of Belgrade often supported autonomists and others that know how to fiercely stand up to Belgrade. Unlike other politicians from the capital, Dinkic has tirelessly travelled across Serbia for more than a year now. To listen and learn what the average voter in Serbia has to say” says Tomislav Damnjanovic.
In the campaign URS focus on: Decentralization, economy, a platform for agriculture and “the biggest surprise is” a program for state professionalization. “And URS is climbing in the polls” says Tomislav Damnjanovic.
“After analyzing all the figures from surveyes we concluded that the key to the success of URS’s campaign lies in the extraordinary popularity growth among the young electorate, those who have completed high school, and workers – the latter surpirsed even campaign staffers” says Tomislav Damnjanovic, G17 Plus Campaign Manager. Thus, URS has devoted special attention to its campaign on the Internet. A special team was formed of volunteers. Currently URS’s fan page has the highest number of “likes“ among all parties in Serbia, while “talk about” is matchless.
URS has nominated Zoran Stankovic for president.
“To many it came as a chock when Zoran Stankovic became Minister of Health” explaines Tomislav Damnjanovic. “He is non-partisan and has an indisputable professional and academic reputation. He is almost a war hero, a man with all the positive individual and professional qualities.”
“Stankovic is acceptable to conservative Serbia. He can reconcile, harmonize and lead the country with unquestionable authority. His views are refreshing because he can approach topics that others can not.”
The Hjalmarson Foundation’s second cooperation party in Serbia, Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), is promoting a program of political neutrality. “According to the program of neutrality, instead of striving for membership in EU, Serbia will develop a cooperation based on mutual interest with EU, as well as with its member countries” explains Nicola Lazic, MP, International Secretary. Also, he says, DSS will continue to promote all traditional European democratic values. “Affirmation of constitutional provisions also means continuation of efforts to preserve territorial integrity of Serbia, when it comes to Kosovo”. DSS has a detailed economic program, “which should stop negative economic trends, create new jobs and improve standard of living”. Also DSS focus on the agriculture sector. “Infrastructure projects (particularly through private-public partnerships), as well as the energy sector represent a great potential for development.”
DSS will insist on reforming judiciary, because the party believes there is no free society and freedom of individuals without independent judiciary and strong rule of law. It is also a prerequisite for attracting investors to Serbia. DSS plans to promote policies to provide demographic recovery of Serbia.
Facts about Presidential Elections:
The president is elected in a direct election with the mandate for five years. The new president must win an absolute majority of votes of those who cast ballots. If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first round, the two top candidates go into the second round that must be held within 15 days. In the second round, the candidate with the highest number of votes wins.
Facts about General Elections:
In the general election, Serbian citizens will vote for 250 deputies whose mandate lasts four years.
The whole of Serbia is a single electoral unit. Seats are allocated in proportion to the number of votes won by each list, using the highest quotient system. On each list every third candidate must be a member of the sex that is less represented in the list. The threshold for parties to enter parliament is 5 per cent. This does not apply to parties representing ethnic minorities.
In Serbia’s political system, the Prime Minister holds most executive power, while the President manages foreign policy and commands the armed forces.
Facts about Local Elections:
Voters are also electing local authorities for 150 municipalities and 24 cities.
The system is the same as for general elections. Seats are awarded through a party-list proportional representation system with a 5 per cent threshold for all but ethnic minority parties and with every third candidate on the lists having to be a member of the less represented gender.
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