Aleksandar Vucic’s win at presidential election will not bring anything new to his policies which he has been implementing in his capacity of the Serbian Prime Minister and President of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). This is what Eric Gordy, a professor at the University College London, claims in his interview for Radio Free Europe (RFE).
“Vucic will continue playing the same cards, and try to remain an acceptable option to the West. Internationally, he is still going act as a pro-European politician, while domestically, he will continue behaving the way he has been behaving in the last 30 years – as a young lion of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS)”, Gordy believes.
RFE: Why do you use the word “act”? Aren’t you convinced about his pro-European commitment?
Gordy: Of course I am not. How is it possible for the former Milosevic’s information minister to suddenly become pro-European? How can a man who controls all the media that publish the most damning articles in which his opponents, researches, analysts, and journalists are called spies can be pro-European? He has never been and will never be that.
RFE: In that case, how do you interpret the harmony that exists between Vucic and the European Union, or rather the governments of certain EU states? He is very respected both in the countries that are on the road to populism, like Hungary, and in those that have other kind of government like Germany. He has said this himself too.
Gordy: My colleague Florian Bieber has concocted this wonderful term “stabilocracy” which means that the West is only interested in seeing whether someone will remain in power and be obedient. It couldn’t care less what that person does or believes in.
RFE: What is Serbia going to look like in 5 years, in that respect? This is, by the way, the length of a presidential term.
Gordy: We saw that the leading figure in the opposition is a man who is not politically profiled in a compelling way, and who is not backed by a political party. I am talking about Sasa Jankovic. It remains to be seen whether Jankovic will succeed at the very same thing that Zoran Djindjic was very successful at, namely establishing communication with a non-urban part of the population and creating a whole movement to back him up.
A great challenge lies in the fact that younger generations are more or less clear about rejecting the existing political system by supporting the satirical candidate Ljubisa Preletacevic.
RFE: Does this mean that there is a chance of a new force being formed that will stand in opposition to the ruling political option?
Gordy: The prerequisite for that is development of the overall political awareness in Serbia. Bearing in mind that that has not happened in the last seventeen years, it is highly unlikely that such force will be formed soon.
RFE: So, let me ask you again. How do you see Serbia in five years’ time?
Gordy: In five years, Serbia will regress to the 1930s Serbia meaning a small client-serving country that will depend on foreign investors in a miserable way.
RFE: How is Aleksandar Vucic and his political posse’s third consecutive election triumph going to affect the relations in the Balkans?
Gordy: They haven’t demonstrated a pronounced inclination towards reconciling with neighbouring states so far. Maybe they will have to do that now. But, in order for that to happen, Aleksandar Vucic has to behave more a like a statesman, and less like a Radical Party activist, which has been his pattern of behaviour so far.
RFE: He has managed to promote himself as an acceptable option for both the West and East, for Russia and the European Union. Do you think that he will successfully balance between the two in the future too?
Gordy: I think that he has a big chance of doing so because the West is growing increasingly weaker, the European Union is in crisis, and the US is practically government-less. This situation will persist for some time, and Vucic, just like any other politician in the region, will try to use it to his biggest advantage.
RFE: You have been quoted as saying that Aleksandar Vucic did exactly the same thing as all the politicians did in the last 17 years, namely Boris Tadic and Vojislav Kostunica. All of them had tried to create a state monopoly but only Vucic succeeded in that. Why is that so?
Gordy: It is very difficult for me say how did he do that, but I think that he did learn a little bit from the experiences of Tadic and Kostunica. The most important thing that he has managed to prove is that he is active and engaged unlike Tadic and Kostunica. The two of them liked the presidential seat a bit too much, and since Vucic has these peculiar psychological characteristics, he is never sure of himself so he just does more.
RFE: How would you describe these characteristics? As insecurity?
(Nova Ekonomija, RFE 03.04.2017)
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