18 May 17 WEEKLY ROUNDUP FOR MAY 12-18

Comic Coups and Early Elections

Falling governments and pivotal elections seem to be the themes of the week, spiced up with the seemingly never-ending coup saga in Montenegro, which, for some, appears to have a comic edge!

Milos Damnjanovic
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian PM and President-Elect (left) and Hashim Thaci, Kosovo President. Photos: Beta/Kallxo

Gaming the System

With the dialogue on normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina rapidly going nowhere, Bodo Weber ponders the question of whether there is a tacit alliance between Belgrade and Pristina.

The presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic, have made themselves indispensable to the US and EU in the dialogue, ensuring their support and a free hand to rule as they please at home. Yet Weber argues that through a constant cycle of regular and snap elections they have made sure that the dialogue itself has remained stalled over the last few years, ensuring that they continue to be indispensable to the West.

Read more: Tacit Thaci-Vucic ‘Alliance’ Again Outsmarts the West (May 18, 2017)


Andrej Plenkovic - in search of a majority in the parliament. Photo: BETAPHOTO/HINA/Lana Slivar Dominic/DS

Crucial Elections

On May 21st, Croatian voters go to the polls to elect their local governments. Yet much more hinges on the outcome of these elections than just the matter of who will govern Croatia at the local level.

With the ruling coalition between the HDZ and MOST at the national level having disintegrated, the HDZ government has a wafer-thin majority in Parliament. While the HDZ will be looking closely at the election result in order to decide whether to go to early Parliamentary elections, smaller parties will also decide whether to prop up the HDZ government or not based on their electoral performance. We analyse the impact of the local elections in more detail.

Read more: Croatia Braces for Local Elections amid Growing Crisis (May 17, 2017)


Andrija Mandic. Photo: nova.org.me.

A Funny Coup

In an interview for BIRN, Andrija Mandic, one of the Montenegrin opposition leaders accused of being involved in plans to stage a Russian-backed coup in the country last October, gives his take on the story.

Referring to the charges against him, he argues that the ‘coup is the funniest coup in the history of coups’. Dismissing the entire saga as a staged process, he explains what he believes were the ‘multiple goals’ which the claims of a coup served.

Read more: ‘Comic Coup’ Only Helped Montenegro PM, Mandic Says (May 17, 2017)


The RS National Assembly. Photo:Darko Gavric/CC BY-SA 3.0

Monotonous No Longer

For more than a decade, the RS political scene has been dominated by two political parties – the SDS and SNSD – with the latter ruling for just over a decade. To most voters in RS, the political scene has, for a long time, appeared distinctly stagnant and monotonous.

Not any more. Tensions are bubbling away within the ruling coalition, but also within the two main parties. A spat over the privatization of a mine threatens to drive a wedge into the unity of the ruling coalition. A number of smaller parties are mulling the formation of a centrist ‘third bloc’. However, even a grand coalition between the SDS and SNSD does not appear to be entirely off the cards.

Read more: Bosnian Serbs’ Stale Politics Face Big Shakeup (May 16, 2017)


The leader of the opposition, Lulzim Basha (left) and the PM Edi Rama entering on Wednesday in negotiations. Photo: LSA

Nipped in the Bud

Balkan-watchers will have had a strange sense of déjà vu in following the evolving political crisis in Albania over the last few months, as the opposition began to boycott Parliament, demanded the appointment of a technical government in order to organize free and fair elections and even threatened an electoral boycott.

The scene seemed to be set for a very similar scenario as in neighbouring Macedonia. Fortunately, thanks to international mediation efforts and dialogue between the leaders of the two main parties, the escalating crisis appears to have been nipped in the bud.

Read more: Albanian Parties Negotiating End Of Political Stalemate (May 17, 2017)
Read more: Albania Resolves Political Crisis With Election Deal (May 18, 2017)


Previous elections in Kosovo | Photo: BIRN

Hanging in the Balance

Following the collapse of Kosovo’s government in the face of a no confidence vote, the date for a snap Parliamentary election has been set for June 11. So who will form the next government?

The result seems to hang in the balance. A return to an LDK-PDK coalition appears unlikely. Some analysts see a real chance for opposition parties to make a breakthrough amid popular discontentment. But others warn that the PDK will still be one of the main players in any new government formation process.

Read more: Kosovo Faces Uncertain Snap Elections (May 11, 2017)

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