News 11 Feb 13

Opposition Parties Muster for Belgrade Elections

The Liberal Democratic Party and United Regions of Serbia are readying for snap local elections in Belgrade, as tensions grow between the city’s ruling Socialists and Democrats.

Gordana Andric

The Liberal Democratic Party, LDP, and United Regions of Serbia, URS, have started preparations for local elections in Belgrade.

No official statements have been issued indicating that a new citywide round of elections is imminent in Belgrade, but polls are to take place in two municipalities in any case.

“Everything happening at the state level is complicating political relations in the city, which inevitably slides towards early elections, and the LDP is preparing… because elections in two municipalities, Zemun and Vozdovac, must be held this year anyway,” Ivan Andric, the LDP vice president, said.

Neither party passed the threshold in the last local elections of May 2012.

After a presidency meeting on February 4th, the URS also decided to ready itself for early elections in the capital.

“Elections in Zemun and Vozdovac will certainly be held this year. We discussed the URS position in Belgrade and decided to immediately start preparations,” a party official told daily newspaper Danas.

Local assemblies in Zemun and Vozdovac were formed in 2009 and 2010, so elections in these two municipalities were not held in May 2012 and are scheduled for this year.

The issue of an early election in the capital has come under the spotlight following reports of alleged links between Ivica Dacic, the Serbian Prime Minister, and a suspected drug clan.

Dragan Djilas, leader of the opposition Democratic Party and the Mayor of Belgrade, has stated that Dacic should resign and called for snap elections.

Dacic ironically answered that he was not sure whether Djilas was referring to general elections or local elections in Belgrade, which could happen if Dacic’s Socialists withdraw their support for Djilas’s city government.

In the May 6 local elections the Democrats won 50 of the 110 seats in the city assembly.

The Socialist-led coalition won 13 and decided to continue its coalition with the Democrats, as in the previous term.

The Progressives won 37 seats, the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, won 10, while the URS and LDP failed to cross the threshold.

Although the Socialists and the Progressives have formed a national government since the May general elections, the Socialists formed local coalitions with the Democrats in numerous municipalities, including Belgrade.

The Progressives have since managed to break some of those alliances, including in the second city of Novi Sad.

Since September they have considered forcing a change of power in Belgrade too, but no decision has been made so far.

Nebojsa Stefanovic, the Progressives’ vice president, said that the party’s managing board would discuss the situation in Belgrade at their next session on February 7 or 8.

“At the board meeting we’ll see what solutions the Progressives have to offer Belgraders and what it is that that we can offer that is better. When we agree on that we’ll present our programme to the public,” Stefanovic told B92 on February 5.

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