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News 23 Nov 17

Defections Dent Jankovic Movement's Prospects in Serbia

Turbulence within the political movement launched by former Ombusdman and presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic is likely to damage its chances in the upcoming Belgrade elections.

Maja Zivanovic

Sasa Jankovic. Photo: Beta/MediaCenter

Turbulence inside the Movement of Free Citizens, PSG, led by Serbia's former Ombudsman and the runner-up in the April 2 presidential elections, Sasa Jankovic, will probably inflict serious damage on his campaign in the local elections in the Serbian capital next spring, experts are warning.

“Events in the PSG represent a challenge for Jankovic in three ways: weakening the already deficient infrastructure in the organization, de-motivating the membership and sympathizers, and weakening his negotiating position in the coming elections,” Bojan Klacar, from the Center for Free Elections and Democracy, CESID, told BIRN.

Jankovic formed the Movement of Free Citizens in May, after losing the April 2 presidential race to Aleksandar Vucic. He won 16.37 per cent of the votes cast.

The movement won support from many prominent public figures, including the actor Nikola Djuricko, the musician Vlado Georgiev, lawyer Bozo Prelevic, former judges and from representatives of human rights groups.

But three of its founders have already quit the movement.

Academician Dusan Teodorovic, a former member of the presidency, left in June, calling Jankovic its “biggest mistake” and accusing him of “non-transparent financial operations, inefficiency and disrespecting what had been agreed”.

After Jankovic in September said the Movement would no longer cooperate with the opposition Democratic Party, which had supported him in the presidential elections, former judge Zoran Ivosevic called the move “personal decision of Jankovic's” and soon left the Movement as well.

The latest blow fell on November 21 when another member of the presidency, the journalist Srdjan Skoro, announced that he was also leaving.

“Decisions are made exclusively by the Jankovic couple; they [the decisions] are changing every day, and we in the Movement find them out in the media,” Skoro wrote in open letter published in the media.

Jankovic did not comment on the letter in the media.

“This is not something that I should comment or on to answer. It will be done by the Movement and the public,” he tweeted on November 21.

But the same day, a member of the PSG Presidency, Aida Corovic, told Blic daily that the resignations sent a bad message to the public and "gave material to [President and ruling Progressive Party chief] Aleksandar Vucic".

Boban Stojanovic, from the Belgrade Faculty for Political Sciences, told BIRN that the recent turbulence would impact negatively on Jankovic’s voters.

“People are slowly realizing that it is obvious that there are some problems in the PSG leadership,” he said.

But he pointed out that PSG was formed only a few months ago and still lacks a complete infrastructure.

“His position in opposition negotiations is not affected, as he still had good result in last elections and the core of his voters is in Belgrade,” he noted.

Jankovic, meanwhile, told Blic daily that political regrouping ahead of the Belgrade elections was making progress and added that talks with former Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas on cooperation looked "very serious".

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