Primaries are probably one of the best ways to prepare for the election campaign. However, the Serbian opposition is ideologically divided and cannot find a common language around a single platform for improving electoral conditions.
Although their demands are more or less similar, the opposition parties, that boycotted the June elections, have different patterns of talking to the authorities. The situation is similar to right-wing parties that do not want MEPs to mediate talks on the improvement of electoral conditions.
In order to bridge the growing gap in the ranks of the opposition, the Free Serbia Assembly (SSS) has proposed to organize primaries within the opposition block, according to the format applied before the elections in Budapest in 2019.
Instead of having a unifying effect, this argument in the Serbian opposition created new divisions, which were not talked about and were in the shadow of the beginning of the dialogue on the election conditions. The SSS says that this model can only be used with consensus from the entire opposition and that any monopolization of an option or a political person would clearly destroy the credibility of the entire process.
Proponents of this idea in Serbia believe that holding primaries would be an exercise in democracy, which would benefit the opposition more, but also the voters who do not believe that voting can lead to changes. In this way, the opposition parties would be practising for the upcoming presidential elections in Belgrade and that would be a unique opportunity for “new faces” to finally appear.
Indeed, the primaries would significantly reduce the influence of a few opposition leaders who now have a voice. This is probably the main obstacle because Hungary’s experience has shown that all candidates who had “stains” in the political past failed to defeat government candidates.
A few years ago, the situation in Hungary was similar to the one in Serbia: there, too, the opposition was divided on everything, but then decided to organize primaries and, based on that, the entire opposition united around one candidate and won the local election in Budapest in 2019. An identical scenario is expected at next year’s parliamentary elections.
As for Serbia, the vanity of the opposition leadership seems to be the main reason why this idea will remain just an idea. According to unofficial information, some politicians are more interested in what Western embassies say than in advancing the opposition.
Political analyst Dejan Vuk Stanković says that the idea of holding primaries within the opposition is impossible for several reasons. He says that the idea is very interesting, but that it is unfeasible due to serious divisions in the opposition.
“The big problem is that primaries will not take place in one main party, as in America, such as the Republicans or Democrats, but rather it would be a vote in which different parties and movements would participate. The opposition could hardly organize something like that as it is composed of different political entities that do not have the same political and ideological orientations,” explains Dejan Vuk Stanković.
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