After all, once we elect a parliament and they choose a government, the entertainment values drop rather dramatically in a politically stable environment. During the pre-election period, it is exciting. We get promises, wild accusations, insults, mud-slinging, and the very best of the Human Condition under pressure. But then the votes are counted (and recounted and contested), the names are read out and after we have laughed and cried and jumped for joy and sunk into despair, and we just have to get back to work and hope RTS and B92 come up with something equally entertaining for us to watch.
Boring works for many people. Investors are happy with boring, knowing that they are not dumping their millions into a Pigeon Drop. Business is happy with boring, knowing that laws will be not passed which flip us back to communism. Consumers are happy with boring, knowing that when they lose their jobs and cannot afford to buy the same groceries anymore that it comes from a systemic ailment rather than from the government itself. Boring is ok by many standards.
But the economy, unfortunately, can only hold our attention for so long. After awhile we get itchy for scandal and intrigue. The Prime Minister knows this. He sensed this restlessness in Serbia and announced that he would purge and rebuild his cabinet. The pundits, kafana-goers, and guy on the street now had something to chew on. They ask if the government would fall. They speculate on the composition of next coalition, or ANY coalition at all, and whether it will be BETTER or WORSE for us. No one speculates as to whether things will be the SAME.
How boring is that?
So the Prime Minister runs the Kansas City Shuffle. While we are expecting smaller and less significant ministries to be ravaged, he fires Dinkic. And we exclaim: Oh! This is entertaining indeed! Now we are waiting to see what will happen next. Now we want to know who and how and when and (especially) what does it mean? How will our lives be altered?
Of course the Thinkers think about early elections, while the Worriers worry about instability. Suddenly everything that was not working but boring is paralyzed and up in the air. Ministerial seats are being juggled, the parties are jostling for positioning, and decision-making comes grinding to a halt (if a snail's pace can be said to "grind").
But now is the time to be on our toes. Any Big Store game like this orchestrates a huge kerfuffle to distract us from what is really going on. We could really get new elections, new ministers, and new policy-makers. We could really end up with a whole slew of different names to contend with on the government website. But nothing should distract us from the fact that we are still in an economic slump, saddled with high unemployment and higher prices, and very little vision as to how to get out of it. New names and faces, with their attendant stories, scandals, and scare-mongering, should not blind us to what is really happening in Serbia today.
And here is the real sting. After the dust has settled again, we will be back to square one. We will have weathered the media assault of the elections or cabinet reshuffle or coalition recast and find ourselves, once again, in the same boring political stability with which we started. We will still be a relatively small country on its way to the EU and trying to attract new investment. We will still tolerate our monopolies and inefficiencies with a shrug.
But we will have one thing. We can look back to the early weeks of 2011 and say to ourselves, "that Kansas City Shuffle, eh? It sure shook things up for awhile."