With great strength come great challenges: Read Sonja Licht’s analysis of election results for Novi magazin weekly

Sonja Licht

25. March 2014

With great strength come great challenges: Read Sonja Licht’s analysis of election results for Novi magazin weekly

These were the tenth elections for our National Assembly since the introduction of multi-party system in Serbia. Of these elections, seven were “snap”, called early by those in power. It is an impressive result, which hints at all the complexities of a maturing democratic order. Surely, parliamentary democracy is the most developed form of political life achieved – or better to say won – by now. Its quality depends on many issues, but above all – an established separation of power; strength of political parties; political system firmly established on rule of law – all of which is unattainable if there are no good laws being implemented, as well as responsible citizens and strong civil society. This is why there are some who believe that fewer parties in the parliament speak of a maturing political arena in Serbia, where great strength of a single party will guarantee for Government’s stability – while others fear that this new constellation of power may jeopardize what is still fragile democracy in Serbia. Yet both agree that on Serbian Progressive Party falls great responsibility, since great strength carries with it great challenges, and almost no possibility to find an alibi in blaming others for failure.

Great strength carries with it great challenges, and almost no possibility to find an alibi in blaming others for failure.

Serbia is facing serious economic and social issues, growing unemployment and poverty, inefficient administration and judiciary. Also, its human potential, our frequent source of pride is in serious state of decline. Far too many young educated and bright have left or are leaving the country, taking with them the much-needed creative energy. And in the 21stcentury, these people are the guarantee of any country’s future. This is why the new governing coalition – and coalition is necessary not only to share responsibility, but also to attract all those who are ready to help Serbia’s inclusion into European and world affairs – will have to dedicate special attention to education and science, expertise and responsible relationship towards one’s work. From ministers to municipality administration, they should all be judged by what they know and what they have achieved, and not their party memberships and loyalties.

A coalition government is necessary not only to share responsibility, but also to attract all those who are ready to help Serbia’s inclusion into European and world affairs.

Struggle against corruption and organized crime goes hand in hand with the fight against negative selection, which has persisted in our society for decades. This will entail introducing many unpopular measures; yet the sooner, the better. One cannot implement reforms without de-politicization of administration; thorough changes in the judiciary and all parts of the force apparatus; and a critical public opinion.

The last point, of informed and critical public opinion serves as a precondition to success of a government that is accountable, and which shares what is a long-term vision of development. This is hard to find with no serious media around. Tabloid journalism is dangerous for democratic order and – in the long term – those who hold the reigns of power. With that kind of media possibilities for citizens’ participation close. Without an active citizen, levels of trust into parties, politicians and institutions will continue to plummet. Individuals sitting in most responsible positions need to re-gain that trust if they want a new and better future for Serbia.

Tabloid journalism is dangerous for democratic order and – in the long term – those who hold the reigns of power.

(Published on 20 March 2014, in Novi Magazin No. 151)