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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    SUN, 23 JAN 1994 19:17:04 GMT

    The elections in Serbia - a view from Montenegro

    THE SOCIALISTS ARE BOTH WINNING AND LOSING

    The impact of the events in Serbia on those in Montenegro is great. Montenegrin ruling party is giving full support to Milossevicc's SPS. How does Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Socialists see Milossevicc and the Serbian Opposition. The Serbian block within the Montenegrin opposition highly is interested in the results of the elections in Serbia. Kilibarda from the People's Party supports Kosstunica's DSS, but has nothing against the voters giving their votes to the DEPOS. One of the Radicals, Bakrach, is convinced that the SPS will be weakened by these elections because "noone new will vote for them, and many of their previous supporters are disappointed". The leader of the "separatist" Liberal Union, Perovicc, is not interested in Serbian elections. The Social Democrat, Vujossevicc, compares what Serbian parties, including the democratic ones, have to offer with the offer of the ghostly empty stores. Anticipations of the leaders of Parliamentary parties about the possible reflections of the election results in Serbia on Montenegro.

    The coming weekend is expected in Montenegro with complete uncertainty, almost equally as in Serbia. The best explanation for this, it appears, was given by a member of the opposition, way back on the eve of the first multi-party elections in 1990, when he cynically concluded that the crucial issue for the outcome of social procesess in Montenegro were the results of the elections - in Serbia! Since that day a lot has changed, but the nature of the relations between Podgorica and Belgrade has remained the same. The connection between the two ruling parties experienced various challenges, but not any changes. The (fatal) attraction of the authority of Slobodan Milossevicc was temporarily jeopardized in the eyes of Montenegrin Socialists by the charisma of Dobrica Ccosicc and the political charm of Milan Panicc, but it was all of short duration, so that the present relations between the two most powerful parties in the member-Republics of the FRY are, as Momir Bulatovicc claimed - "ideal".

    The support to the SPS

    Along these lines an explanation should be sought for the support which goes to the limit of being in bad taste, offered by the leading personalities of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) to the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) at the forthcoming elections. Secretary General of the DPS, Marovicc, in an interview given to Tanjug towards the end of November, said that the SPS "has all the right to hope for the best, regardless of its weaknesses and mistakes". According to Marovicc, the decisive advantage of this party is in the fact that it has "the best first man in this people". A man who "knows his people, who has the capability to understand state interests, the traditional and the patriarchal dimensions of his people, and to satisfy its needs with his political moves".

    Marovicc anticipates that the opposition Serbian parties do not have much of a chance, "because they are divided into urban and rural ones, into those which are excessively pacifist and those which are exclusively radical", and that there are "too many difficult conflicts between them, for them to become a serious alternative".

    But, since about twenty days ago, the open support of the DPS to its coallition ally ceased. According to certain, comparatively reliable sources, it was "vetoed" by the SPS itself, because such "aid" turned out to cause more harm than benefit for it. Bristled reactions of the opposition parties in Serbia indicate this, all with a single underlying idea: "the Montenegrins want to choose our authorities for us". But, the DPS, which undoudbtedly was mostly motivated to offer this support primarily by its own interests, probably was not too sorry because of this "moratorium", since the polling of the electorate showed that the SPS did not hold its position as firmly as it was expectyed. Hence, the ruling Montenegrin party is silently waiting now.

    Weakening of the SPS

    Similarly as to the ruling party, the elections in Serbia mean a great deal to the parties of the so-called Serbian block in Montenegro. The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) in Montenegro is a branch of Ssesselj's headquarters, and the People's Party is in fraternal relations with Kosstunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS). The leader of the People's Party, Kilibarda spent about ten days in Serbia as Kosstunica's guest, participated in the promotions of DSS and came back with the impression that "triumph of democracy" is at hand. Dr. Kilibarda tried to persuade the people there to vote for the DSS, and if they would not, let them vote for the DEPOS then. The President of the Executive Board of the People's Party, Predrag Drecun, expects that the elections will "finally make it clear to the people that the solution of the Serbian national issue is not the monopoly of the Communists. I am convinced that the people in Serbia have realized, like the people in the Republic of Serbian Krajina, that the SPS is manipulating with the national interest, for the sake of the idea buried in the Flower House in Dedinje" (the grave of President Tito), Drecun says. The leaders of the People's Party expect that the Socialists will lose at least ten seats in the Parliament, that the number of Ssesselj's Radicals will be reduced to a half, and that great progress is awaiting the parties of Djindjicc, Kosstunica and Drasskovicc. Predrag Drecun expects also that these three parties could win over 50 per cent of votes and form a coallition government.

    The leader of Montenegrin Radicals, Drago Bakrach, is convinced that Milossevicc's Socialists will be weakened after the elections, because, "noone new will vote for them, and they have disappointed many". He does not reject the possibility that the SRS might win less seats than last time "in view of the blockade in the media", but intimately he believes that Ssesselj's Party will remain as strong as before. The Radicals claim that the victory of Babicc in Knin is to their advantage, and especially the victory of Zzirinovsky in Russia. Bakracc expects the rise of the DS and the DSS, and the decline of the DEPOS.

    Irrationally or according to the empty stomach

    For Slavko Perovicc, the leader of the Liberal Union, the elections on Sunday are just "another farce prepared by Milossevicc's regime as part of its essentially anti-Serbian politics". Stressing how uninterested his party is for this event, Perovicc still does not miss the opportunity to point out that the way the elections were called, the unbelievable abuse of the media, the victory of Milan Babicc in the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina, show that it is a stroke of "political weakness, and by no means of strength of Slobodan Milossevicc". The leader of the Liberals is still convinced that there will be no more elections in Serbia, "because Milossevicc, as a thoroughbred dictator and autocrat is not ready to recognize a negative election outcome and peacefully cede the power". For Milossevicc, Perovicc is certain, there are only two ways to leave the throne: " According to the model of Chausheskou, or at the War Crime Tribunal which Serbia itself will be forced to establish".

    Dr. Ilija Vujossevicc, the President of the Social Democratic Party, thinks that the outcome of the elections in Serbia depends on the fact whether the majority of voters will choose according to irrational criteria and the propaganda directed by the regime, or whether the signals from their empty stomachs will reach their brains". Vujossevicc says that, while he was watching on Tv the election campaign in Serbia, the offer of essentially different options, especially democratic ones, reminded him of the ghostly empty shops. In this context, he says, all will be defeated - both the parties and the voters.

    Due to the already mentioned links of the circumstances in the two members of the "modern federation", it is interesting to hear the views of the leaders of Montenegrin Parliamentary parties how the December elections in Serbia will reflect upon the situation in Montenegro. Svetozar Marovicc believes that the victory of the SPS would sterngthen peace, democracy and prospects of the FRY. The opinion of Predrag Drecun from the People's Party is completely the opposite. He thinks that defeat of the SPS is "a necessity both for both Serbia and Montenegro". Such an outcome, Drecun says, would shake up the position of the ruling Montenegrin party. Drecun claims taht elections are imminent in Montenegro in the course of next year, and that he already feels the anticipation of a preelection atmosphere in the frequent polling of the opinion of the voters ordered by the authorities and their intensified promotion in the state media.

    Drago Brakracc from the SRS, on the contrary, thinks that there will be no elections so soon in this Republic. But, the President of Montenegrion Radicals says that speculations about the reflections of the results of Serbian elections on the state status of Montenegro are not without foundations. "If nationalists win on December 19, it is possible that in Montenegro the fraction which is not in favour of a common state, will prevail in the DPS", Brakrac says.

    A new distribution of power in Serbia is expected by Dr. Ilija Vujossevicc (SDP), but also difficulties which will arise, as a result, in the Federal Assembly, where, having lost control in the Chamber of Citizens, Milossevicc will probably now experience the same in the Chamber of the Republics. This might be a reason for scheduling federal elections, but also for the introduction of a state of emergency. "All these scenarios are quite catastrophic and with a strong negative impact on Montenegro and its political scene", Dr. Vujossevicc says.

    Apparently the coolest attitude towards the elections in Serbia is that of the leader of the Liberal Union of Montenegro, Perovicc. "Whether there will be elections in Serbia or not, whether a state of emergency is introduced or not, the political credibility of the Liberal Union and the entire opposition block is irrepressibly rising. Serbia will, unfortunately, need a long journey through darkness, while Montenegro is anticipating its dawn", claims Perovicc self-confidently.

    Darko Ssukovicc

    AIM (Podgorica)