October 3, 2002
The Unbearable Futility of Voting
As A Useful Farce
of the Serbian presidential vote this past weekend were entirely
predictable, and Vojislav Kostunica is likely to win come
the October 13 runoff. And while any outcome of the vote will
make little difference in the grand scheme of things – for
the future of Serbia is not decided at the ballot box, but
in the power corridors of Washington, DC – the election does
offer several revelations about Serbia, the Balkans and even
by reports from Belgrade, Kostunica won around 31% of the
vote. Zoran Djindjic’s sock puppet Miroljub Labus, ostensibly
running as an independent candidate, managed to garner some
27%. The biggest surprise was the third-place finish of Vojislav
Seselj, who got anywhere between 22 and 25 percent of the
point to several interesting conclusions. First, only slightly
over 55% of the eligible voters participated in the election,
a strong signal that many disliked the available choices.
Secondly, candidates loyal to Djindjic won barely 30% of the
vote, less than the combined total of candidates formerly
allied with Milosevic. Given Kostunica’s showing, that translates
into a 70% disapproval of Djindjic’s rule, a powerful portent
for the increasingly likely early parliamentary elections.
is also interesting that Kostunica had strong support across
the board – in Belgrade as well as in the countryside, among
the besieged Kosovo Serbs as well as the wealthy farmers of
Vojvodina. Labus’s support came mainly from ethnic minorities
and urban elites dependent on the government.
Seselj’s strong showing is not so much a resurgence of some
"extreme nationalism," as some commentators are
to observe, but a strong protest vote against the policies
of submission which Djindjic initiated and Kostunica accepted.
This resentment is unlikely to achieve manifestation, though.
Kostunica will use it to win in ten days, but he will not
confront the Empire.
may also look as if the coalition that deposed Milosevic two
years ago has come to dominate Serbian politics. But that
Kostunica and Labus will be facing off in the final round
does not necessarily mean that the former DOS is framing the
Serbian political discourse. Thanks to the vacuum
of values left behind by the collapse of Cold War socialism,
politics in post-communist countries have always centered
around personalities more than ideas. Serbia is definitely
not an exception.
personal values set the contenders apart – Kostunica’s moralizing
legalism against Djindjic’s amoral pragmatism – but on the
issue of state, they are in complete agreement. Both believe
in a western-style democratic republic, a managerial state
that pays lip service to the free market but also practices
social engineering. They disagree on the extent and direction
of the engineering, but not its application.
ideas are keeping the Balkans in the gutter. But they
are also the foundation of the Empire.
the Empire has revealed where its sympathies
lie. Reports about the election routinely declare Kostunica
a "moderate nationalist,"
Labus is labeled a "pro-Western reformer," while
Seselj is a "hard-line ultra-nationalist" and a
champion of "extreme nationalism that marked Milosevic’s
tenure." No report neglects to mention that Milosevic
himself endorsed Seselj "from his cell in The Hague,
where he is on trial for war crimes and genocide," emphasizing
guilt-by-association and further smearing Milosevic as an
added bonus. The phrases vary – though not by much – depending
on the wire service, but their placement and tone do not.
is almost certain to win the final vote, so this criticism
can’t be aimed at influencing the results. More likely, it’s
a method of pressure aimed at gaining leverage for the Empire.
It is the same way Washington had the DOS regime submit to
endless blackmail, extortion and humiliations in order to
prove their "democratic" credentials – a promised
blessing which, unsurprisingly, never materialized. Whether
Kostunica falls for the same trick the second time remains
to be seen.
implication of the Serbian presidential vote mostly overlooked
so far will be their influence on the upcoming general elections
in neighboring Bosnia. In just two days, residents of that
protectorate will have to decide who will govern their daily
affairs for the next four years, knowing fully well that anyone
they elect can be summarily dismissed by the Imperial viceroy
at any time.
ruling Social-democrats have been stymied over the past two
years by their American-brokered alliance with the thinly
disguised nationalists from the "Party for Bosnia"
(SBiH), led by Haris
Silajdzic. Alija Izetbegovic’s right hand during the war,
Silajdzic officially split from Izetbegovic’s SDA afterwards
– only to join it in a power-sharing coalition in 1998. Through
the SBiH, Izetbegovic continued his policy of seeking a unified,
Muslim-dominated Bosnian state, even as the SDA was ousted
from power and he was pressured by the Empire to retire.
and Blame in Sarajevo
never been disabused of the notion that the war in Bosnia
the fault of Serbs and Croats, many Muslims are easy prey
for the nationalist rhetoric of the SDA and SBiH. Now Kostunica’s
victory and Seselj’s strong showing have given the Muslim
militants more ammunition for their propaganda guns.
a campaign stop along the border with Bosnia a
couple of weeks back, Kostunica told the crowd that the
Bosnian Serbs are "like a family member, temporarily
separated but still holding a special place in our hearts."
The characteristically over-the-top Silajdzic called the remark
a "declaration of war," while others protested Kostunica’s
ostensible "aggressive designs" on Bosnia.
less popular are accusations of Kostunica’s "fascism,"
given that he will receive support of Seselj’s voters in the
runoff, and that Seselj is reviled by Muslims for his alleged
role in wartime atrocities and his "Nazi" politics.
the Muslim militants might do well to remember who is the
ultimate master of the Balkans. The Empire will not be impressed
by the news that a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist was arrested
Saturday on his way back from Bosnia. Or that five former
high-ranking government officials were just released
from jail, even though they were involved in establishing
and running a terrorist
training camp raided by NATO six years ago.
one hand, defeat of Djindjic's regime in Serbia and the Izetbegovic-Silajdzic
axis in Bosnia would make a difference by stoping things from
getting worse. On the other hand, the essential and existential
issues plaguing both Serbia and Bosnia would remain largely
will remain a protectorate for the foreseeable future, just
as Serbia will remain Washington’s whipping boy no matter
who inhabits the presidential villa in Belgrade. Anyone who
dares challenge the Empire risks a smear job declaring them
either a mobster or a war criminal.
are being advertised as a way of claiming responsibility for
one’s future. In reality, they are nothing but a way to fool
the people into believing that their opinions matter. And
it is very obvious that for a very long time, that has definitely
not been the case.
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