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Srbija 2020

The Politics of Cynicism

As I write some metres away is a stand draped with the slogan 'Red Card for the Radicals' on it. Next to that 'Citizens initiative for the banning of the Serbian Radical Party'. Closeby resting on the ground almost out of sight lies the G17 symbol printed upon a plastic tablecloth. Trade is enthusiastic if somewhat sporadic.

In case anybody missed the latest farce in the Serbian Parliament it involved a Serbian Radical Party MP calling a G17 MP an Ustase - she is apparently an ethnic Croat. To make matters even more comical presiding over the parliamentary session was Draza Mihajlovic's grandson. He sat in his seat unmoved - (Biljana Srbljanovic writes more on this).

The G17 MP responded later, reportedly close to tears, by calling her accusers fascists. Since then G17 has declared political war upon SRS.

So, apart from again doing further damage to Serbias international image what lies behind this latest storm in a teacup? Is it further evidence of a Serbia plagued by nationalism? Or does it show the fundamental cynicism of certain politicians in using every single means at their disposal to turn the public off politics altogether?

A poll conducted some days later shows the SRS soaring to new heights - 40 percent. The same poll shows that more than 50 percent of the public harbours no desire to vote in the next election.

Thus what may appear to be crude nationalism in fact may be nothing more than clever tactics employed by SRS. And the response from strategists in the 'democratic block'? Governing DSS is reduced to leaning towards coalition partners G17 but at the same time occupying the space between themselves and SRS in order not to lose potential support. The Democratic Party remains on the sidelines, tacticians there have long won the argument that the party must stay out of government in order to maximise support at the next general election. Oh and of course G17 keeps cooperating with the Radicals in local government

In other words nothing has changed. What to expect? More of the same of course. I wont play.

No, I didnt sign up to ban the Serbian Radical Party. Despite my initial anger at the ustase slur it became obvious to me that venting my spleen is not the solution and would be both ineffective and counterproductive. Does anybody truly believe that SRS supporters will just melt away for good? Is it even desirable to try to silence a party that has the support of over a third of the population?

The problem in my view isnt only the Radical party but the failure of 'democratic' politicians to offer alternatives to alleged chest beating cries of nationalism.  The failure of 'democratic' politicians to set an example concerning how a democracy should function. The failure to offer and adequately 'sell' social policies that will appeal to at least a proportion of SRS supporters.

The Radicals are a symptom of the problem, the real problem that has bedeviled Serbia in the last decade or more - cynical opportunism.