Serbia Politics in the 2000’s

Starting from 2006 and in the following years, the trajectory of the political and economic development of the Serbia was marked by some crucial changes, such as the dissolution of the Union with Montenegro, the adoption of a new Constitution, the declaration of independence Kosovo and the achievement of the status of candidate country for EU membership. After the referendum (June 2006) which sanctioned the independence of Montenegro (v.), the Serbia recognized the new state; on 28 and 29 October the Serbian voters also expressed themselves in favor of the adoption of a new Constitution. In the month of May, however, the integration path of the Serbia in the European Union had suffered a setback already in the first phase of the process: the EU in fact suspended the negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement, criticizing the government Serbian for its poor cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in relation to the capture and extradition of six defendants accused of war crimes, including the former Bosnian Serb general involved in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (v.), Ratko Mladić.

In the parliamentary elections of January 2007, the nationalists of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) won the relative majority of seats (81); but the vote also saw a strengthening of the pro-Europeans of the Democratic Party (DS), who won 64 seats and became part of a coalition government – chaired by Vojislav Kostunica – together with the Democratic Party of Serbia-New Serbia (DSS-NS) and to the reformists of G17 plus. Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February 2008 sparked a debate among coalition parties and led to early parliamentary elections in May 2008. The Democratic Party-led coalition For a European Serbia – whose leader Boris Tadić had been re-elected to the presidency of the Republic in the previous February – won 102 seats and was the pivot of the new government, set up with the support of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia (PUPS), United Serbia (US) and the representative forces of ethnic minorities. The new executive, led by technocrat Mirko Cvetković, continued to implement structural reforms and harmonize legislation with that of the EU – with which the Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed in April 2008 – but the actual implementation of the new regulations was often difficult also due to the structural weaknesses of the public administration, pervaded by corruption.

From 2011, Serbia adopted a more collaborative attitude with the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, arresting the two fugitives Mladić and Goran Hadžić; moreover, its policy towards Kosovo was marked by greater pragmatism, as evidenced by the opening in May 2011 of a technical dialogue between the parties, initiated and strongly supported by the EU and placed as a necessary condition for the country’s accession to the Union. However, the Serbia still did not recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

The elections of May 2012 radically changed the Serbian political scenario: in the presidential elections, the outgoing head of state Tadić was defeated by the nationalist Tomislav Nikolić of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), a political force that also won the relative majority of seats in Parliament (73) and formed a new coalition government, led by SPS leader Ivica Dačić. The continuation of the dialogue with Kosovo had a positive impact on the European integration path of Serbia, which in 2012 was granted the status of candidate country for admission to the EU. An important step in this process was the first agreement reached between Belgrade and Priština in 2013, which the European Union did not hesitate to call historic because it established for the first time a general framework for regulating the autonomy of Serbian communities in Kosovo.

Aspiring for a full mandate to pursue its government program, the SNS called for early elections: led by Aleksandar Vučić, in the March 2014 vote the party won an absolute majority of seats in Parliament – 158 out of 250 -, a result that allowed Vučić to assume the post of premier. The new government undertook economic development policies, concentrated on the privatization of state-owned enterprises, announced a cut in public wages and engaged in reform of labor legislation; in foreign policy, while the objective of integration into the EU remained firm, relations with Russia were strengthened, especially in the field of investments.

Serbia Politics in the 2000's