A mouse that “jumped and bit” the rival MP, women’s underwear displayed in the Parliament, and a stone in the assembly pews.
These are the symbols of the last convocation of the Serbian parliament, which started its work with protests that the opposition lodged with the state Electoral Commission due to the results of three electoral lists which were on the verge of electoral threshold, and ended with the declaration of the state of emergency and hunger strike of Dveri’s leader, Bosko Obradovic.
“These are scenes that fall into the category of parliamentary provocations or incidents; they happen in all parliaments around the world especially when the opposition is denied the right to speak. As long as we had the opportunity to speak freely, we did not engage in any incidents because our goal is not to provoke but to conduct a serious parliamentary debate,” Bosko Obradovic told the BBC in Serbian.
For political analyst Dragomir Andjelkovic, these scenes come as no surprise:
“We generally have a low level of political culture here, so I would not like to specifically highlight the current parliamentary summons or any politician in particular, because we have had zig-zag political relations since 2000. Unfortunately, the very continuity of Serbian political life itself leads to many radical and aggressive things”.
Parliamentary elections in Serbia are now scheduled for 21 June and were previously postponed due to the declaration of a state of emergency.
“We hate the radical method”
Bosko Obradovic says that his parliamentary mandate is actually a snapshot of Serbian politics and society in the previous four years:
“Our mandate, as the opposition, has been characterized by the suffocation of freedoms and media in Serbia, the violation of the Constitution and the law and the attempt to stifle the voice of the opposition. Each of our debates in the Parliament was interrupted, the microphone turned off, we were excluded from the Parliament’s work, so at some point, we decided to boycott the work of the National Parliament because it had lost the meaning of parliamentary democracy.”
Obradovic says that his parliamentary group, which entered parliament through a coalition with the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), was among the most active and had the most parliamentary appearances even though his proposals and initiatives were not adopted.
“Only when we were brutally prevented from speaking, when our microphone was turned off in the middle of the sentence, did we have to look for alternative ways that led to such radical political methods,” says Obradovic.
“You resort to this when you have nothing else left, even at the risk of your own health; I wanted to draw attention to what is happening in Serbia by going on hunger strike,” he added.
Obradovic went on hunger strike in front of the Serbian parliament ten days in May to denounce the undemocratic situation in Serbia.
The public also remembers the incidents when Obradovic interrupted a parliamentary session by blowing a whistle, his clash with deputy Marjan Risticevic in front of the parliament building, the stone he brought into the Parliament building while reciting a song by Djura Jaksic, and the mouse that “jumped and bit” an MP from the SNS, Aleksandar Martinovic.
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Political analyst Andjelkovic says that one can expect excessive situations from anyone who thinks such moves will bring them political benefits.
“In every party, there are people who are ready to act radically and to the limit of excess. I would not particularly like to accuse Dveri as they are neither better nor worse than the rest,” Andjelkovic believes.
“There’s no reason to behave differently”
In her fourth term as an MP, Vjerica Radeta, from the Serbian Radical Party, was also the deputy speaker of the Parliament, while her former party colleague, Maja Gojkovic, is the current speaker.
“If there were no Serbian radicals in the National Parliament, people would not even know what laws the parliamentary majority has passed. Perhaps our greatest success is that we proposed a new law on executive procedure and security and received the support of more than 100,000 citizens for this proposal in a very short time,” says Radeta, adding that she is sorry that they could not convince the parliamentary majority to put this proposal on the agenda.
However, the public also remembers her confrontation with Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, to whom she told that she was a “thief among thieves”, while her colleague Milorad Mircic brought pink women’s underwear to the Parliament also to provoke Mihajlovic.
“We have shown that she is actually a spy in the government of Serbia and that EUR 300 million was stolen from the budget and spent on a dubious contract with Bechtel. We also wanted to remind people that government officials spend public money on underwear and cosmetics, bags worth several thousand euro, gloves that cost more than the minimum wage in Serbia and similar machinations,” says Radeta.
In the parliamentary session held in January 2020, Minister Mihajlovic rejected the accusations of the radicals.
“You are lying because there are no documents to prove that the Chinese company offered a lower bid to build the Moravian corridor. You are lying that I took 300 million for the Moravian corridor. You are lying about me being a spy, American or British,” Mihajlovic was adamant.
Dveri’s leader, Bosko Obradovic, whose methods are seen by the public as similar to those attributed to the Serbian Radical Party, says that the protagonists of such a method are in power.
“The radical political style, applied to the maximum by the SNS, is essentially the opposite of what Dveri wants,” Obradovic says.
(BBC in Serbian, 03.04.2020)
Photo credits: “FONET/SLOBODAN MILJEVIĆ”
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