June 22, 2018
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Transparency Serbia NGO head Vladimir Goati says “only the contender who loses in the upcoming presidential runoff may give in to the blackmail of Ivica Dacic”.

Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and Democratic Party (DS) leaders Tomislav Nikolic and Boris Tadic will compete in the second round of presidential elections on May 20, while on May 6 their parties won 73 and 67 seats in parliament respectively, and now need to find coalition partners in order for either to be able to form Serbia’s next government.

“Although the head of state is very important as it is elected in direct elections, the president’s role is largely ceremonial, and he serves as a moral authority to the nation,” Goati told Belgrade-based daily Blic in an interview, adding that the government has executive powers, so the prime minister’s office is the key one.

“It would be rather unusual if the winner in the presidential elections and leader of the pivotal party, which secured the greatest number of votes in a future government, would cede the key state office and influence to a partner from a smaller party,” he said.

The DS is likely to bring maximum flexibility and willingness to reach a compromise to the negotiation table, but should make sure that the strategic leverage remains in its hands, Goati said, adding that would be a reasonable approach.

The same goes for the SNS, as if elected, Tomislav Nikolic will not be willing to lose all leverage in the political trading.

Asked about the possible scenario if Dacic became prime minister, Goati said that the prime minister who is not from the ruling party would be outvoted all the time, and therefore, his government would not last long.

Dacic leads SPS which he inherited from the notorious “butcher from the Balkans,” Slobodan Milosevic. It raised eyebrows of many when Dacic, numerous times during this elections campaign referred to phrases coined by Milosevic during the years of his preparation for the war. Dacic was not shy from such unsettling statements even before. Youtube posted videos show him celebrating the results in the company of the leaders of soccer hooligans and shadowy members of Serbian underground, whom all raised in prominence during the Milosevic era.

“We have a situation like that in the government of Vojislav Koštunica, who was forced to return his term of office to the people since he had been outvoted in the government. That would be a short-term government,” Goati said.