In the future Serbian government, there will be no more than half of the ministers from Ana Brnabić’s previous term, although some seats will be kept by those who showed ‘no results’ in the ministries they previously headed.
Some ministers, like Irena Vujović, the environment minister, will remain in the same positions, while others, like Tomislav Momirović, Nikola Selaković and Darija Kisić Tepavčević, will be ‘in charge’ of new ministries with which they have nothing to do.
It would be logical, for example, that there would be no place for Irena Vujović in the new government, given the continuous protests of environmental organisations in recent times, with which she has neither negotiated nor come to any agreements. At key moments, the hot potato was passed to President Aleksandar Vučić, or PM Ana Brnabić, instead of Vujović. Indeed, it seems that she did not address the potential dangers of the Rio Tinto mine, nor did she take any action on air pollution in Serbia, considering that the air in cities all over Serbia was often the most polluted in Europe, while Belgrade was on several occasions declared the most polluted capital city in the world.
Tomislav Momirović, who was Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure in the last term, also failed to do his job well. Many projects were delayed, deadlines were broken and he is also particularly notorious for numerous gaffes. The biggest was certainly when he congratulated International Victory Day (celebrating the fight against Nazis in World War II) on social media, stating that ‘anti-Semitism is rooted in the foundations of Serbia’. In the new government, Vučić entrusted him with the Ministry of Foreign and Internal Affairs, and probably only he knows a valid reason he did so.
The minister for all occasions is, of course, Nikola Selaković, who did not handle the Foreign Affairs Ministry very well in his last term. Before that, he had been Secretary General of the Presidency of Serbia and, shortly before that, Minister of Justice.
Dr Darija Kisić Tepavčević also gets to helm a different ministry. She drew attention to herself as an epidemiologist and member of the coronavirus task force. As the government was satisfied with how she performed in that position, she was given the position of Minister of Labour. In the new government, she will head the Family Care and Demography Ministry.
Dragan Popović, director of the Practical Policy Centre, believes that the only parameter for the allocation of the new government ministers is the degree of their loyalty to Aleksandar Vučić and that there are no indications that ministers have been evaluated according to their performance.
“That would be pointless as the state is so centralized and the political system is so authoritarian, that it does not matter what ministers do and what decisions they make. None of this can happen without the approval of Aleksandar Vučić. There is no individual responsibility in an authoritarian system,” says Popović.
He says that none of the ministers are responsible for anything, because none of the decisions are theirs. “The only thing that matters is loyalty and their personal relationships. I believe that the personal relationship between the president and the ministers was to a certain extent decisive,” Popović concludes.
This post is also available in: Italiano