Issue 43 - FRY Elections, Vol. 3, October 31, 1996



  • "Vreme" on the overview of the electoral situation in Serbia

  • "Nezavisni" on some parties of the center and left coalitions

  • "Vreme" on the initial electoral poll

  • "Monitor" on the electoral overview in Montenegro

  • "Vreme" on the electoral situation in the sensitive Sandzak region

  • "Monitor" on the position of the Montenegrin branch of the SDA party

  • "Nezavisni" on the pre-electoral situation in Vojvodina

  • "Monitor" on the (mis)use of the police in the elections

  • "Monitor" on possible electoral manipulations

  • "The Right to Picture Words" on the electoral use of the media

  • "Vreme" on the final electoral poll

  • "Kosava" -an electoral commentary

    Milan Milosevic of the Belgrade weekly "Vreme" wrote in the September 21, 1996 issue of that magazine one of the initial overviews of the federal elections on the territory of Serbia.

    Wheat affair, social discontent, Bosnian elections and election calculations The election campaign was overshadowed by two events in Serbia last week---the Bosnian elections and the interrogation of the witnesses (September 16) in the trial against Zoran Djindjic, the president of the Democratic Party (DS) who has been charged with slander and exposing the Prime Minister of the Serbian government to ridicule.

    As of December last year, Djindjic has not let the matter of the so-called wheat affair out of his hands by which he is trying to prove that Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic's Serbian government, as a directorial one, has been discredited due to a conflict of interests since the ministers-directors are in a position to give preferential treatment to their (public or private) companies. Formally, all ministers have "frozen'' their directorship functions, while minister Radulovic went so far as to "freeze'' his membership in the Democratic Party, as well as the MP seat which he had received through it. Essentially, in Serbia which is being governed as a single company and where the boundaries between government functions and public companies have not been set, where everyone who is in a position to run to the government for funds does so, the public doesn't much care for Western bans on politicians showing preferential treatment towards business enterprises.

    Djindjic looked upon the trial as a political chance, and gave up his MP immunity status in order to transfer the parliamentary debate to a courtroom. He announced that DS would continue to publish "evidence on the machinations of the ministers in the government of Serbia'' in leaflets which he would distribute all over the country. Prior to the September continuation of the trial, he published on a black flyer an enlarged fax document with a seal, filed under the highly confidential number 199/95. It states that the government of the Republic of Serbia on its session held on December 7, 1995, amongst other things, has concluded that the company Progres was to export one million tons of wheat, partly for foreign currency funds, and partly as a compensational transaction for the import of oil and eventually mineral fertilizers.

    The day before the trial continued (15), DS activists distributed a special issue of Demokratija wholly dedicated to the "wheat affair.'' Last week Djindjic stated in front of a few thousand supporters in Kikinda: "In Serbia all things take place amidst the red triangle of criminal activities---the government, the company of the minister, the Directorate of Commodity Reserves. In three steps the work, sweat and toils of a million people disappear and are transformed into foreign currency funds which end up in private bank accounts in Cyprus.'' Nothing can stop this trial from being put into a political frame, and it looks as though Djindjic has, in the wheat affair, out witted his opponents shouting "Where's our bread!''

    The government, which at this moment is trying to calm the rebel workers from Kragujevac and to fulfill at least one promise on putting the production capacities into motion, will not look upon such incitement of discontent graciously. The trial, inconveniently for the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), corresponds with the very beginning of the campaign. Bratislav Ivkovic, president of the Belgrade socialists, claims that they will not organize a special campaign, but shall rather consider their already existing activities as their campaign. The Yugoslav United Left (JUL) has published its program in Politika daily. New Democracy is announcing its stand on the elections on all levels. All is running in a routine fashion.

    The Bosnian defeat of the Union of Peace and Progress and the eventual outbreak of social discontent shall most probably push this group into an even firmer embrace. In that context, it can be of great help to the ruling party that the public is still wasting its time by taking notice of the relations amongst the opposition engrossed in pre-election calculations. The agreement of the Serbian Renewal Party (SPO), DS and the Civil Alliance (GSS) on joining up forces in the coalition "`Zajedno'' contains the obligation (article 6) of these parties that they will not form any alliances with the ruling party (meaning SPS) nor their satellites (New Democracy ND) neither in the campaign nor post-campaign period individually, nor with opposition parties which do not appear as signatories of the coalition agreement (having the Democratic Party of Serbia DSS in mind).

    Yet it also foresees (article 9) "Zajedno' coalition agreement on the federal level, the coalition `Zajedno' shall, on the municipal, town and province elections, since those elections are to be held in accordance with the majority knockout system, be open for joint lists with DSS and other opposition parliamentary parties.'' On the basis of that, the democrats have started making pacts with municipal DSS boards.

    However, since the dispute between DSS and SPO has continued, the president of this party has ordered its boards not to join up with the "Serbian Renewal Party haters,'' and to put eminent DSS people on their lists only if they become SPO members. In the announcement from September 15, DS claims that by such an act "the signed agreement is doubly violated'' and that the "municipal boards of that party shall keep all of the previously made agreements on local coalitions with all opposition parties, including DSS.'' SPO sent word that, in case conflicts on the local level persist, they shall hand in individual lists on the federal level. If all local lists aren't coordinated by September 22, the presidency of the three coalition parties have to reach an agreement in the next seven days. Which means that they shall carry on their skirmishes throughout September and that those skirmishes shall undermine their credibility.

    Source: Belgrade weekly "Vreme", September 21, 1996

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    Teofil Pancic of the Novi Sad weekly "Nezavisni", gave also in his elections commentary in the October 4, 1996 issue of that magazine a more detailed view on some coalition partners on both sides.

    The whole regime block as Vuk Draskovic named them, the "Reverse coalition", seeing the formation of the coalition "Zajedno" decided to unite too. Speaking in "JUL" rethorics,it wanted to be on a par with the "reactionary right". The ruling Socialist party of Serbia and a very powerful United Yugoslav left of Milosevic's wife, dr. Mirjana Markovic are natural allies. "New Democracy, it should not be forgotten, represents a specific lobby of businessmen who have built their small business empires mainly on the privatized "social" capital. That is why the heads of this party, which like to rejoice in their late-Duce strategy of the "long march through the institutions", see their interest in keeping the global status quo in the power relations on the Serbian political scene, with gradual and dosaged movement towards that model of privatization which will protect "the results" of the transformation of the capital so far. The interest of the three parties whose parties represent the regime on the federal and republican level is then, clear and undeniable.

    The "Zajedno" coalition is a more murky proposition. Everything started with a joint meeting of the SPO, DS, and GSS on the March meetings in Kragujevac and Belgrade. The heads of the three parties have, finally, discovered hot water, that is, came to the conclusion that the joint stance makes them stronger and more able to adequately confront the ruling block. In that manner, as has been the case on other numerous occasions, the story of a joint efforts (and votes) of the democratic opposition in Serbia as been warmed up, which was, from the beginning, characterized by quarrels, fractures and pathetic conflicts which do not lag too much behind the famous theological discussions on the theme "how many angels can be fit on the eye of the needle".

    The "Zajedno" coalition was, until September, some form of an "informal marriage"; only the dangerous approach of the electoral deadline forced SPO,DS, and GSS to formalize their cooperation. The key moment for the success of the oppositonary mediators was the success of influencing former national bank governor, dr. Dragoslav Avramovic to return from the USA and rent his name and still charismatic figure to the coalition. This has meant the widening of the coalition towards DSS, the party of a hardline rightist orientation, which has, until that moment, refused to cooperate with the "Zajedno" coalition, finding for this "principled" reasons, such as insufficient patriotic orientation of two of the three parties that have formed it. DSS of Vojislav Kostunica is the product of the "mainstream" of the former Serbian dissident movement; this means that its political programme exhausts itself in the alchemic attempts of combining and integrating nationalistic and democratic ideas in the almost cold war rethoric of anti-communism, unsuited to the nineties.

    Source: Novi Sad weekly "Nezavisni", October 4, 1996

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    Belgrade weekly VREME commissioned the first of three pre-election polls by research agency Partner-Marketing.Milan Milosevic commented on the poll in the October 5, 1996 issue of the magazine.

    The poll was conducted in the period of September 26-30 and covered 1,000 citizens of Serbia of voting age, excluding Kosovo. The poll covered 26 municipalities.

    Which party would you vote for if federal parliamentary elections were held now?

    The Zajedno coalition 28.5%. The SPS-JUL-ND coalition 24.2%.

    That outcome surprised many poll researchers, this writer and some readers. The first check of those results was a comparison with the previous elections, in 1993 in Serbia excluding Kosovo. When the results of the percentage of the vote won by the SPS in those elections are compared to the results of the poll and when the results of the DEPOS opposition coalition at the 93 elections are compared to the results of the poll, you get an interesting parallel:

    SPS in 1993 24.3% SPS-JUL-ND 1996 24.2%

    DEPOS-DS-DSS 1993 23.2% Zajedno 1996 28.5%

    SRS 1993 9.5% SRS 1996 8.0%

    Other parties 1993 8.3% Other parties 1996 5.0%

    Undecided 1996 13.7%

    Abstentions 1993 34.0% Abstentions 1996 21.2%

    The ruling coalition currently has a rating almost equal to the ratings of the SPS three years ago and Zajedno has almost 5% more support than its members had in 1993 while the Serbian Radical Party is losing support. In Belgrade, Zajedno improved its ratings to 6.6% (from 32% to 38.6%); in central Serbia (without Kosovo) by 5% (22%-27%); and in Vojvodina by just 2% (18.8%-20.8%). We don't know how the Democratic Party of Vojvodina Hungarians (DZVM) will do in Vojvodina after its break with the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) and what the For Vojvodina coalition will do as it pins down a relatively large number of dispersed votes. The SPS has held onto its support in Central Serbia (27.2%-27.5%), grown stronger in Vojvodina by 2.6% (21.4%-23%) and dropped slightly in Belgrade (20.3%-19%). SRS ratings dropped the most, by 3.5% in Vojvodina (10.6%-6.9%), 1% in central Serbia, and held onto their support in Belgrade.

    The drop in support for the SRS in Vojvodina is primarily a sign that the war is over. We'll wait and see how the SRS will profit from social unrest. But, any calculation will not be complete until the 13.1% of undecided voters make their choice. Local Level Which party candidate will you vote for at local elections? SPS-JUL-ND 22.6% Zajedno 27.4% SRS 8.1% Other parties 4.3% Undecided 16.7% Abstentions 20.9% Serbian voters seem to be avoiding cross voting and at local level, they show that their decisions will be the same as at the federal level. Partners's local election poll indicates possible regional differences. The poll showed that 24.8% will vote for the leftist coalition at local level in central Serbia, 22.7% in Vojvodina and 18% in Belgrade. Zajedno will get 35.7% of the local election vote in Belgrade, 27.2% in central Serbia and 19.1% in Vojvodina. If that indication is correct, it could mean the electorate is forgiving the opposition for the mistakes it made while it ruled locally in Belgrade just as SPS voters are forgiving their party for losing the war, destroying the state and the years of misery.

    The poll did not show if the opposition voters will let the Socialists win in the second round as they have done so far. Party armies are staying in place, 69.1% of the people who voted for the SPS in 1993 said they would vote for the SPS-JUL-ND coalition and 70.1% of the DEPOS-DS-DSS voters support Zajedno. Those percentages could be increased by undecided voters.

    Support for the SRS is dropping since just 54.3% of SRS voters said they would vote for the Radicals this time around, but bear in mind that polls are often wrong about the SRS; every 1992 poll missed the mark with the SRS. In any case, 15% of SRS supporters are undecided and 12% opted for Zajedno. It seems that loyalty is linked to the perceptions of chances to win the elections; just 38% of supporters of other smaller parties are staying faithful to the parties they voted for in 1993---14.9% of them won't vote and 14.5% will vote for Zajedno. The Yugoslav United Left (JUL)and Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) spent all last year playing to the younger generation, trying to get it into its ranks but judging by the poll, they can't claim success; 32.3% of voters who were under age in 1993 opted for Zajedno and just 9.3% for the leftist coalition. The SRS will take 12.9% of first time voters. Zajedno is a young person's coalition, attracting; 29.3% of voters aged 18-23; 23% aged 30-39 and 23.1% aged 40-49. The SRS won over a similar part of the population with 25.9% aged 18-29, 21.6% aged 30-39 and 27.5% aged 40-49. The SPS-JUL-ND coalition is like a mirror image of that: the poll shows that 23.9% of its supporters are over 60, 21% are aged 50-59 and 23.1% are aged 40-49.Men are the more active voters, but the leftist coalition has a better balance of the sexes (54% men to 45% women) than the SRS (59.9% to 40.1%) or Zajedno (57 ;-43%). Avramovic, who said his wife would kill him if he didn't obey her, could teach them about relating to women.

    Those polled were also asked to evaluate parties on a scale of one to five: 36% graded one for the SPS, the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) got 42%, SRS 44.8%, Democratic Party (DS) 30.1%, Serbian Democratic Party (DSS) 27.5%, JUL 40.9%. On the other hand, 15.7% gave the SPS a five, 2.4% for the SPO, 3.3% for the SRS, 2.9% for the DS, 2.4% for the DSS, 5.2% for JUL. That could mean that opposition voters are more critical towards their parties than SPS supporters are towards the ruling party, grading them low but voting for them anyway.

    Average grades for the party leaders were about the same as for their parties with the exception of Milosevic, who has a much higher average grade than the SPS and Avramovic, who scored the highest average grade of 3.899. The coalition leaders are pulling their groups forward. Will these elections be a settling of accounts? Those polled were also asked to grade institutions on a one to five scale. The Serbian president got the most positive grades (15.1%).

    Zajedno voters tend to exaggerate the influence of President Milosevic and SPS voters tend to underestimate it. Voters believe that, in terms of influence, the institution president is followed by the Yugoslav Army (VJ) (12.5%), Serbian police (8.2%) and President Lilic (8%). On the other hand, President Milosevic's influence is said to be vast by 77.6% of the polled while just 18.2% feel the VJ has vast influence. The other armed force, the police, is also not believed to have vast influence with just 28% of the polled saying it does. Among the people who gave the lowest grade to the Serbian government, 60.9% are Zajedno supporters and 58.2% are SRS supporters.

    On the other hand, 79% of the people who gave the Marjanovic government the highest grade will vote for the SPS-JUL-ND coalition. SRS supporters voiced the greatest dissatisfaction with the economic position of their families; most of them (37%) said their economic position is very bad and 30.9% said mainly bad. People who won't vote said their situation is very bad (40%) and mainly bad (26%). The undecided mainly (42%) said their situation was average. Zajedno supporters are less dissatisfied than SRS voters (27.8% said very bad, 27.5% said mainly bad) and most of them (38.7%) said their situation was average. A higher than average number of SPS-JUL-ND voters (46%) said their economic situation is average. Most Zajedno (39%) and SRS (37%) supporters expect the economic situation to remain the same next year while ruling coalition supporters said it would improve. That means that the SPS Step Into the New Century campaign has injected optimism into hard line regime supporters and relaxed opposition voters somewhat without moving them from their decision.

    Right now it seems that variations in voter support won't have a serious effect on expected election results set by the balance of forces in 1993 and 29 district electoral system. Since the first poll showed similarities with the 1993 elections and the fact that the number of MPs is dictated by a different layout, the VREME documentation center decided to simulate the vote count based on possible election results (see election compass) so readers can get a realistic image of election chances. The system will be shown on the example of electoral district 1 Palilula where four MPs will be elected. We took the SPS 1993 results, the total results of the Zajedno members and the SRS results and divided them by 1, 2, 3, 4. Zajedno 101,321/1 = 101,321

    SPS 50,868/1 = 50,868

    Zajedno 101,321/2 = 50,660.50

    Zajedno 101,321/3 = 33,773.67

    SPS 50,868/2 = 25,434 Zajedno 101,321/4 = 25,330.25

    SRS 21,251/1 = 21,251 The first four candidates get elected in Palilula. Zajedno leads the SPS by 3-1 and the growth of its ratings in Belgrade by 6% probably won't affect the outcome. In fact, the numbers in most electoral districts won't be affected by the change in ratings. The SPS will win the elections in Serbia 58 parliament seats to 40 mainly thanks to Kosovo, where they're leading 12-0 in three districts. Similar simulations with a narrowed down Zajedno showed an outcome of 63-32 which means Kostunica's decision to join Zajedno brought the coalition nine seats which the DSS would have lost on its own. The first pre-election poll shows that could win in terms of voter numbers (28.5%-24.2%) but that ratio will change to the end of the campaign. The ruling coalition will win in terms of parliament seats, regardless of whether the difference in popularity will grow or drop.

    Source: Belgrade weekly "Vreme", October 5, 1996

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    In the September 20, 1996 issue of the Podgorica weekly "Monitor", Drasko Djuranovic gave an overview of the electoral situation among the Montenegrin opposition.

    When on August 22, Novak Kilibarda and Slavko Perovic publicly proclaimed in front of the cameras the introduction of the electoral coalition "Narodna Sloga" (National Unity), it was the first step towards greater joining among the Montenegrin opposition in the fight for the "anullment of the absolute power of the Democratic Party of Socialists". Two days later, the Executive board of the SDP decided that this party will join the coalition, while positive answers of the SDA for Montenegro and the Democratic Union (the party of the Albanians) was awaited. The electoral mathematics was indicating that there is a serious reason for the unification of the politically different parties: the simple sum of the votes of these five parties guaranteed the bringing down from power of the DPS.

    The illusions about the possible formation of a "great coalition" was first dispersed by Harun Hadzic, leader of the SDA, who openly stated that his party has no intetion to join the oppositionary fight against the DPS. Mehmed Bardhi, the leader of the Democratic union, was a bit more veiled, leaving the possibility of cooperation more open.

    The trilateral coalition of the parliamentary oppositionary parties - LSCG, NS and SDP - was not brought into contention in the beginning. It was thought though, that to the Kilibarda's party which had "a Serbian flavor" ,the coalition with the two parties who supported sovereign and independent Montenegro will be somewhat unpleasant. But Kilibarda, a professor inclined to politics, seems to have dispersed "national romanticism".

    But, the problems arose where they were least expected. The formal joining of the SDP was being prolonged day by day. The first problems arose with the division of the future mandates: but after long discussions, the Socialists accepted five mandates.

    Still, the formal proclamation of the trilateral coalition did not come about. Again the negotiations stumbled concerning the relations within the coalition: the method of decision-making and deciding on the carriers of the electoral lists.

    It turned out that the "minimum of conditions" on which the SDP insisted was the key moment for the breakdown of further talks.After that, everyone went their own way: the leadership of the SDP to New York to be formally accepted in the Socialist International, and the leaders of the LSCG and NS into a formal electoral campaign.There were attempts to revive the dialogue, but with no success.In the meantime, the Nationals and Liberals quickly laid down the details of their electoral campaign.

    The individual electoral attempt of the Socialdemocrats will have serious consequences for the Montenegrin political scene. The SDP will be the first one to feel them. There is a good chance they will get a much lower share of the Parliamentary seats as the consequence of the new electoral law. Their position will be furthter weakened by the entering into the electoral scene of the SDA party, particularly in northern part of Montenegro. Possibly, they can count on three parliamentary mandates.

    The political damage of the non-entrance of the SDP into the coalition will be also felt by the LSCG and NS. It is quite certain that the main goal - dethroning of the DPS will be impossible without the votes of the SDP.

    Source : Podgorica weekly " Monitor ", September 20, 1996

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