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News 15 Jun 17

Serbian Right-Wingers Unveil Populist Platform

Three right-wing groups announced a new populist political platform focusing on “Serbian cultural identity”, but their ability to attract voters to their cause remains uncertain.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
The right-wing organisations present the platform in Belgrade. Photo: Medija centar

Three Serbian right-wing organisations presented a joint conservative populist platform, claiming to represent a ‘third way’ between the current government and the opposition, although their appeal to voters remains unclear.

Former Serbian presidential candidate and leader of the National Freedom Movement, Miroslav Parovic, said that the platform should unite those who support “conservative, traditional values”, regardless of whether they side with the current government or not.

“That does not matter. We support Serbia and think that key issues must be a matter of consensus, and not subject to everyday politics,” Parovic said.

Parovic is known for his right-wing statements and connections to the French far-right Front National and the anti-immigrant movement Alternative for Germany.

“We wish to offer Serbia a third path. On one side you have [Serbian President Aleksandar] Vucic, and on the other you have people whose only policy is to hate Vucic,” said another one of the platform’s initiators, Dragan Jovanovic.

Jovanovic is a sitting MP who was elected on the list of Serbia’s ruling coalition, led by Vucic’s Progressive Party, and is currently in the process of registering his own political party, Better Serbia.

The platform is also supported by the People’s Network, led by a former member of the right-wing opposition party Dveri, Vladan Glisic, who claims his organisation is “staunchly in opposition”.

At the press conference, Glisic laid out their platform, which includes the idea of a Serbian “cultural space” that he claimed includes Serbs living in Serbia, Montenegro, Republika Srpska (the Serb-dominated entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), and “many other Balkan countries”.

“We insist that this cultural identity space is regarded as a whole and that the policy of cultural identity is the main policy in Serbia,” Glisic said.

Other points of the platform include raising Serbia’s negative birth rate, neutrality in foreign policy and a return to “sovereign” decision-making in Serbia’s internal policy.

Boban Stojanovic from the Faculty of Political Sciences told BIRN that it is possible for the new platform to draw voters from other conservative opposition parties, such as the Democratic Party of Serbia, Dveri, and the Serbian Radical Party.

However, Stojanovic does not think that the new platform represents a “Trojan horse” on behalf of the ruling Progressives to take support from other right-wing parties.

“I don’t think they can act as a kind of ‘Trojan horse’ because I think they cannot draw voters away from Vucic’s key adversaries, such as the Democratic Party, the Enough is Enough Movement, and [former Ombudsman] Sasa Jankovic,” Stojanovic said.

He added that Glisic, as well as Parovic, are well-known politicians who have been trying to establish a patriotic-conservative political party or movement for years, but without success.

“Therefore I don’t believe that the movement has a serious chance of becoming relevant in the near future,” Stojanovic predicted.

He suggested that if the liberal opposition was to unite against the ruling majority, its platform might become some form of third option.

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