15 Mar 11

Serbian MPs Approve Government Reshuffle

The Serbian parliament approved a government reshuffle late on Monday in Belgrade, after weeks of speculation about changes to the cabinet.

Beta, B92

The government now has 17 ministries and 21 ministers, instead of the previous 24 ministries and 27 ministers, Beta news agency reported.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, who also took on the finance portfolio as part of the shuffle, pledged that his new government would work towards improving living standards for Serbians.

“The citizens of Serbia should live better now, today, and we will do everything to make sure that happens,” Cvetkovic told the parliament before the vote.

MPs attending the session voted 129 for and 19 against, with no abstentions. Serbia's three largest opposition parties left the parliament before the vote.

Coalitions led by the ruling Democrats, DS, Socialists, SPS, the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina and the League of Vojvodina Hungarians voted in favour of the reshuffled cabinet.

Only MPs from the Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, voted from the ranks of the opposition, casting their ballots against the new cabinet.

Serbia's government was shaken after former economy minister Mladjan Dinkic, who is also the leader of the junior government partner G17 Plus, was sacked in February. Speculation about the reshuffle has been rife for weeks, and some observers questioned whether the government would be forced to call early elections.

The opposition has also become increasingly vocal in recent months. The largest opposition party, the Progressives, held a rally in February that boasted several thousand demonstrators, and have warned that they will hold another gathering in April. The party has capitalised on growing discontent over unemployment in the country.

The vote on Monday was by roll call, and the new cabinet members took their oaths after their appointment.

Earlier on Monday, MPs acknowledged the resignations of some ministers, including those whose departments were merged with others.

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