Start of electoral campaign in Republika Srpska

Why will the RS Assembly be the best forecast of the November election results?


MON, 10 JUL 2000

Banja Luka, July 5, 2000 - Is the destiny of Serbs meant to be always tragic, as their politicians like to say in their pre-electoral campaigns, just, as their enemies swear, or ironic, as it seems to the author of this article?

Maybe the reader will be able to find the correct answer to this question, if he has not already managed to, next week when the Serbs will get their first real chance in Parliament to show whether they are fighting for power or for Republika Srpska. How did this sudden opportunity to show "who is loyal and who is a traitor" offered itself?

None of the parliamentary parties, apart from those with their headquarters in Sarajevo, wanted the Constitutional Court of B&H to pass a verdict just now that the Republic of Srpska no longer belonged to the Serbs and its other citizens, but to the Serbs, Bosniacs and Croats alike. In all fairness, all these parties knew very well what had been decided two weeks before the verdict was passed, but kept silent and would have kept silent had not the media discovered that a very important decision was in question. After that, according to their usual habit, the Serbian politicians raised a hue and cry, starting an avalanche of statements, releases, discussions and resolutions. They protested against the ruling as unfair, unjust, contrary to the Dayton Accords, conducive to the division of RS, etc. Incidentally, this is close to the mark. But until this Tuesday, according to Momir Malic, Secretary of the Assembly, no one moved a motion for placing this issue on the Parliament's agenda.

FAR FROM IRRESPONSIBLE DELEGATES: Question is why haven't either Dodik's or Kalinic's men announced how they plan to raise the issue of constitutionality before the Parliament and courageously reject the Constitutional Court's ruling in defence of the internal and external RS borders, at least until the November elections, after which they would defend themselves in the next four years or come what may? Why should Dodik submit the ruling of the Constitutional Court to "irresponsible delegates" when that would push him even further from the Dayton Accords? Why should he antagonise the foreigners who have supported him even at the time when God have forsaken him? He has no reason to because then Dragan Kalinic could reproach him: "You were the only one who knew what will happen, but didn't tell us because we would have certainly done something". This is only a part of the truth, since everyone knew in advance what the Court's decision would be, but some were busy trying to deprive the Government of the majority, while other trying to survive yet another vote.

Dragan Kalinic is also not willing to raise the question of constitutional amendments of this smaller Bosnian entity which, according to the Court's ruling, could be now called the Srpska (Serbian), Bosniac and Croatian Republic (or shortened: the Republic of SrBoHr). Why should he antagonise the foreigners whom he has managed to persuade that he is eating out of their hand even better than Dodik himself. Why should he now spoil the Assembly which has been dedicatedly reviewing Dodik's Government for four weeks, without interruption, tearing it apart, criticising and bringing it down knowing that, irrespective of the outcome of the voting, Dodik will stay in power till November, but no longer strong or self-confident as he used to be. In other words, they would all rather deal with Dodik than with the Constitution.

I could bet that if anyone tries to push through the story about the Constitutional Court, it would be the Radicals, not because they care for RS more than others, but because since last March, when they were ousted from the political life, they have been working in the people's interest disregarding the tactics. In other words, they alone do not count on themselves, which is why they can do anything they think fit.

LEFT HALF INSTEAD OF A POLITICIAN: Naturally, this isn't the question of the constitutive nations in RS, or of the unsuccessful Government, but rather of the elections. And until that day in November, if it ever comes, nothing new will happen on the political scene of RS. Apart from explosions, assassinations, threats. But, all said and done, that's what the elections are like.

If he were able to think more as a politician instead of reasoning as a left half who has finally got a chance, Dodik would finally realise that no one wants to replace him. There are two reasons for that: first, no one can replace him because foreigners wouldn't allow it. Secondly, why should he be replaced: Is there a better Government for SD and Mladen Ivanic, for that matter, than this one which produces daily more than any number of posters a printing-house could produce.

That is why, the only Dodik's chance of scoring at the elections is to withdraw together with his Cabinet and leave it to Dragutin Ilic and his companions to establish a review board or whatever. Why? Because, in that case Dodik could tell them: "I wanted to take you to Europe, true over Laktasi, but if you don't want it I shall step down. I would only love to see how, just before the elections, will you manage to get from Slobodan Milosevic pensions, teachers' salaries, etc". But, Dodik will not do that. He will rather stay, full of confidence in the people from his Cabinet who are so deeply involved in shady deals that the moment they come to a café in Banjaluka, everyone around them leaves in fear of becoming a "collateral damage".

Dodik, who has been looking for allies through a public competition, is destined to stay with "Sloga" (Unity), from which he has driven away all people of character or sent them to positions of their choosing where they will not be such characters any more. It will be interesting to see whom will "Sloga" nominate for RS President. Biljana Plavsic, perhaps? The Serbs love soap operas, but this one is going on too long and has already turned into a monodrama. Could Dodik nominate himself? Hardly, he is more vulnerable than Dejan Savicevic (note: a famous football player) after these two and a half years.

Therefore, if he has to remain at the head of Government, the only solution for Dodik is to tie his powerful, but scuttled ship, to Mladen Ivanic. Naturally, Ivanic has demonstrated an extraordinary taste in choosing the company he keeps, in other words, at keeping Milorad Dodik at distance and making alliances with people from the Federation, rather than from his own reformist surroundings.

ALONE IN THE END: This is the reason why all these Assembly sessions dedicated to Dodik can be interpreted as an anticipation of the November elections. And these elections will be an opportunity for the people to declare their opinion about the RS Prime Minister, which is by no means good for him, because, as a rule, for every Serb that like him there are four of those who hate him. It's quite a different story with Ivanic and SDS: their voters too will go to the polls with Dodik's picture in their minds. And that is godsend salvation for them, especially so for SDS, which has nothing more to offer.

On the other hand, same as in Parliament, Dodik is alone: there is no more Zivko Radisic, with his fateful voters, while the only thing Biljana Plavsic can do at the elections is check how many of her relatives are left in RS, because they are the only ones who will support her. Customs Administration and the people for whom he has secured flats do not represent the sufficient share of the electorate for Nebojsa Radmanovic to be able to do any favours to anyone after the November elections, while Jovan Mitrovic, with his DNS, will have neither the electorate nor an interest group to turn to.

But, the foreigners will ultimately come up with someone, probably from Dodik's circle, for isn't that same Dodik Milosevic's fierce opponent in RS, and isn't that same Milosevic in power for as long as Dodik's Government has been. And that means that the calculation from Laktasi goes something like this: May Milosevic live long and all the foreigners that are against him. And Dodik will somehow find his way with his voters, Ivanic and the rest.

Original article