What is the real purpose of government reshuffle?

This is how the whole thing with the government reshuffle went down…

First, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic whined in front of the press that she did not understand why they were still bothering her with the questions about the government reshuffle when she had decidedly said that she would not talk publicly about it.  

As soon as the Serbian president turned his back and went to America, the prime minister appeared in front of the very same journalists, angry as a bear with a sore foot, stating that the behaviour of certain ministers could no longer be tolerated because they were cunning and “were pushing their own agenda”. So, the prime minister asked the president, who, according to the Serbian Constitution is not in charge of the Serbian government, to discuss the reshuffle of the very government she was leading.

The prime minister did not explain what kind of “agenda” the government ministers, who are running their ministries according to the state’s agenda, could have, but at least she revealed to us that some ministers did have their own “agendas”. Just in case you did not know!

While we wait to see what the president of the state, who, as a lawyer by profession, is not bothered by the Constitution nor the country’s laws, will decide regarding the government reshuffle, the media have been speculating about two possible directions. Did Ana Brnabic use this opportunity to express what had been on her mind all along and that she was fed up with being constantly publicly humiliated by certain ministers, namely Zorana Mihajlovic, in order to pressure Aleksandar Vucic into giving her some authority, or was she given the task of putting this issue out, in the public, to test the waters until Vucic’s return?

If Ana Brnabić appointed the ministers herself, as most heads of governments usually do, she would also now be able to replace them. But we all know that her hands are tied and that only those ministers that are chosen by the president will leave the government. But even the president is not completely independent in choosing ministers, no matter how hard he tried not to acknowledge that. There are side influencers here to consider! For instance, the so-called Russian ‘influencers’ would gladly see Zorana Mihajlovic out of the government. Ana Brnabic too! On the other hand, the American ‘influencers’ would eject both Ivica Dacic and Aleksandar Vulin from the government. Also, common sense dictates that both of them should be out of the government and out of public reach in any shape or form.

So, who are we left with? There is the Finance Minister, Dusan Vujovic, the only minister that differs from his peers because he is well-versed in the segment that he helms and who has long wanted to leave, particularly since late last year, according to the “well-informed” sources. The Economy Minister, Goran Knezevic will also be replaced, albeit for health reasons. All other ministers should shake in their boots and think long and hard whether “they have done a good job”, “do their results speak for them” and whatnot, which are the usual answers they give when someone asks them whether they expect to be replaced. It really doesn’t matter if the information or the sports minister will be among those that will leave the government. Everybody has to play their part, bow down and go when they are told to.

What is clear is that it is totally unimportant who will leave the government and who will remain in it. It also doesn’t matter whether the reshuffle will happen at all. It is president Vucic who leads the country’s government, and the government ministers are just his “distorted image in the mirror”, to quote a political analyst. None of them are even allowed to attend a conference without Vucic’s prior consent.

All of them are the spitting image of the prevailing value system, starting with the Prime Minister who is not left with much authority considering that even her ministers are allowed to bash her publicly. Then there is Ivica Dacic who, as the foreign minister, does not speak English but does sing to foreign guests and makes them laugh. Or the justice minister Nela Kuburovic who holds no authority in her profession. Or, for instance, the interior minister who is devoted to the party (SNS) that much that he fears for his safety if he is ever left out of it. We won’t even talk about Vulin, as the defence minister. It is impossible to go through all them here, and it would not be fair to leave any of them out.

In this context, the only purpose of the reshuffle would be pulling wool over people’s eyes yet again, maintaining tension and keeping “the machine” on standby until autumn when, lo and behold, we are going to need a snap election. Why? Well, they will come up with some kind of explanation. The experience has taught us that sillier the explanation, more people will believe it.

By Biljana Stepanovic

(Nova Ekonomija, 01.04.2018)



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