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Serbia's Election: Get Ready to Declare Fraud!!!

by Upstate NY Wed May 14th, 2008 at 04:54:17 AM EST

Just a brief comment on Serbia's election since no one else seems to have diaried it.

One of many stories on the election outcome can be read in [Murdoch Alert] The Times.

A game is at play that reminds me of the [US] Pres. election in Florida circa 2000.

The Western Press has jumped the gun and repeatedly declared that the Pro-EU forces in Serbia have won a big victory over the "Nationalist" parties. This meme has been repeated hundreds of times in the Western Press, and occasionally you'll see an addendum to this claim which goes something like this: "The Pro-EU bloc will now form a government, unless they are stopped by the Nationalists who will attempt to steal the election results that express the will of the people."

Essentially, as the argument goes, the only way the Nationalists end up in power is if they commit fraud and steal the election. This is the frame being spread in the Western media.

Promoted, with slight edits, by Colman


A closer look at the election reveals some finer details which work against this frame:

  1. The so-called Pro EU forces decided to combine all parties into one bloc so as to garner the greatest proportion of the vote. They did, by 38% to 29%. However, the next largest pro-EU party that was NOT part of the coalition (the LDP) could not garner the necessary 5% which would give it parliamentary representation. This means that the Pro-EU vote tops out at 38%.

  2. There are ethnic minority parties which, according to the constitution, do not need to meet the 5% threshold to be represented. These parties are mainly Bosniak, Albanian, Hungarian and Roma. One can assume that they are pro-EU, however together they only bring about 6 parliamentary seats.

  3. The Radical Ultranationalists won 29% of the vote, the Socialist Party once run by Slobodan Milosevic won 9%, and the PMs Democratic Party (deemed Nationalist) won another 13.5%.

  4. When you add up the pro-EU vote and weigh it against the Nationalist vote, it's clear that many more Serbs voted for the Nationalists. The headlines, however, make it seem as though the pro-EU coalition won more votes, even though that coalition itself was composed of many different smaller parties.

Ultimately, I see now that Western politicians such as Slovenia's FM Mr. Rupel, as well as analysts such as Tim Judah, are making logical flips and tying themselves into contortions as they claim victory for the Pro-EU bloc even as they acknowledge the necessity of the coalition's managing to woo Milosevic's Socialists over to their side in order to form a parliamentary majority. So, bizarrely, the party of the man once deemed by the West a liberal Democratic alternative to the Nationalist Milosevic (and here I'm talking about Kostunica, a legal scholar who is the first to translate US constitutional documents into Serbian) has now been labeled a loser nationalist in expectation that the Pro-EU Bloc will cut a deal with Milosevic's Socialists. The Socialists themselves are not actually pro-EU at all, making these arguments even more preposterous. This leaves outside observers scratching their heads, and it makes the labels "European" or "Nationalist" absolutely preposterous. The fact is, the party that most ascribes to a Nationalist ideology only won 29% of the vote. The party that most ascribes to a "European" orientation gathered together with other parties to win 38% of the vote. The rest of the parties are either oriented toward minority or economic ideologies.

This is where Western journalists are mistaken: the label of pro-European is not naturally dialectically opposed to the label of Nationalist. Sloppy writing has allowed many to argue that some of the "anti-EU" groups are, by opposition, Nationalist. And then there's the difficulty of explaining why an anti-EU group such as the Socialists aren't Nationalist even though they were branded as such several years ago when under Milosevic's rule.

And perhaps most ironically of all, the one party that has managed to win a majority of the vote in several prior elections is the Radical Ultra-Nationalist party.
Though they won a majority of the vote, they were never able to form a parliamentary majority, and they have remained out of government the entire time.

Odd that no one argued about stolen elections and fraud back when the Radicals had the most votes.

Sometimes I wonder if the press from EU countries, and the EU leaders themselves, believe their publics are so stupid that they wouldn't notice such blatant propaganda attempts.

Display:
Did I say brief?

I had no intention f writing a diary but then I saw no one had written one.

by Upstate NY on Mon May 12th, 2008 at 03:22:47 PM EST
Thanks for this.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon May 12th, 2008 at 05:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Serbia's Election: Get Ready to Declare Fraud!!!
Sometimes I wonder if the press from EU countries, and the EU leaders themselves, believe their publics are so stupid that they wouldn't notice such blatant propaganda attempts.

Yes. And mostly they are right I fear.

by generic on Mon May 12th, 2008 at 04:09:38 PM EST
Indeed....

narrative:
we won.. it is over, get over it.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon May 12th, 2008 at 04:53:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder how they do it. The news agencies? But why do nearly all newspapers keep a headline that is so clearly contradicted by the facts in the article that follows?
As you pointed out a narrative with internal contradictions is particularly weak. So it probably won't have legs if most people read more than the headlines.
by generic on Tue May 13th, 2008 at 08:18:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely.. it is the famous page B23 effect...

to bury the important stuff in the last paragraph deep down in the newspaper.

And they count on it. Soemtimes .. it is just the difference between the title and the core of the report...

it's sad but true.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue May 13th, 2008 at 12:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's sort of the same thing that the Soviets had: public mouthpiece journalism to "make opinion". In the Soviet Union, the West called this a "lack of freedom to express one's opinions and beliefs". In the European Union and American Union, they call it (preposterous as it may sound... really) a "free press".

But in essence it's the same thing, only run by two ideologically different elites.

by vladimir on Tue May 13th, 2008 at 03:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY thank you for trying to explain this mess.
It's going to be really interesting and when Serbian political field is concerned everything is possible.
I just hope political parties in Serbia will settle their business peacefully cause Serbian people are actually sick of them all and I don't think people are willing to fight over anything at all.
I still believe most of the people in Serbia are pro-EU ...problem is Kosovo. Except maybe less the 5% of voters noone else is willing to recognize it and let go....

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 04:28:39 AM EST
I dont see the problem with what was reported.
The Pro-EU party got the most votes, and the anti-EU parties though could form a blocking coalition. Thats the nature of coalition politics.
I know there was reports that the nationalists off all strips were expected to do better than they did.
As for pro-EU press....HA! This article was from the Times, anti-EU press along with the bulk of the UK press.

I think people are seeing things that dont exist.

by EvilEuropean (evileuropean@googlemail.com) on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 09:32:23 AM EST
It all depends on what your definition of "party" is.

If it's a political party, then your first statement is incorrect. The DS party did not receive the "most votes." They formed a coalition, something they had not done in the past, with other political parties, and together they received the most votes. In point of fact, the results of this election mirror almost exactly past elections when the so-called nationalists won the most votes. Again, let's do the math I've done above. It should be obvious that the parties who refuse to play footsie with the EU on Kosovo won the majority of the votes. Just add them up, and you'll see that this is the case. I did the math in the diary. The nationalists landed over 50%. The pro-EU groups landed over 38% and will likely add more as they ally with the ethnic minority parties.

Lastly, most newspapers are also trotting out lines which state that "the will of the people supports the pro-EU groups," while other newspapers have gone so far as to argue that a Nationalist coalition would be against the will expressed in the election. It's that kind of "framing" that I'm responding to.

by Upstate NY on Wed May 14th, 2008 at 11:20:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote:
It should be obvious that the parties who refuse to play footsie with the EU on Kosovo won the majority of the votes.
----
This is true.But as you said before:
Quote:
This is where Western journalists are mistaken: the label of pro-European is not naturally dialectically opposed to the label of Nationalist.
----
or opposite...For example DSS are nationalists but at the same time they claim they are pro-European if EU is willing to take Serbia in it's borders (with Kosovo in it)...Kosovo is a main point in this election and it will make "cat and mouse sleep together".That's why you can see leftists (SPS) , centre (DSS) and right (SRS) talking about coalition. That is incredible...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 12:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be nice to have a diary on the Serb political spectrum...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 02:59:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only that I am not an expert (all though I have an interest in politic) but my English language ability is limited. There is nothing that I would like more then to be able to explain to you more about Serbian political situation even as an amateur. I'll try here and there but to make a diary is too ambitious for me...sorry. There are few people here that at least understand the concept of that mess and I thank them for trying to put their views in a form of diary here.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 04:03:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe vladimir could write it and you could comment on it?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 05:25:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's very nice of you to volunteer me Migeru. :-)
I'm (as we all are) quite busy with numerous professional and private activities - which makes this kind of a commitment kind of difficult... I'll see what I can do. -> Upstate NY is another ET member who is very well informed of Balkan politics.
by vladimir on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 02:06:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but he's Greek(-American).

Take your time, after all there won't be another election in Serbia for a while...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 05:04:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greek-American, without the parens.

Trust me, this change is duly insisted upon whenever I'm in Greece or Cyprus.

by Upstate NY on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 10:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I'll be in Athens and Sifnos this August! I can't wait. Long live our Greek brothers.
by vladimir on Fri May 16th, 2008 at 01:50:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Touche.

You're exactly right.

I'm making the same generalization as those I'm criticizing.

Unfortunately I sometimes feel forced to use their labels.

Plus, it seems as though DSS may actually be allying with the Radicals, which would seal that Nationalist label under their name.

Not that they really give a shit.

by Upstate NY on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 09:53:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks like the so-called "Nationalist" Bloc has formed a governing coalition.

So, now, here come the new headlines, I expect.

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2008&mm=05&dd=15&nav_id=50272

by Upstate NY on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 11:03:20 AM EST
Ack, this is what happens when someone who doesn't quite know the actors and the names makes a report.

These were negotiations for control of the biggest Serbian municipality, not the entire country.

Sorry.

by Upstate NY on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 11:07:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that Tadic is forming a coalition with the Socialist Party - of which Slobodan Milosevic was boss. And the "international community" is applauding.
by vladimir on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 05:08:20 PM EST
Assuming that ideology plays a part in party formation, then we have here the portrayal of repressive, nationalistic, genocidal forces in the form of the Socialist party, now deemed pro-European and democratic, whereas the party that entered into power after the Fall of Milosevic, the party of Kostunica, once deemed pro-Western, pro civil rights and democratic, has now become the nationalist, regressive, party, and the stench of genocide has been laid at their feet as well.

George Orwell would have a field day with the turnabout.

It's only been 6 or 7 years for these reversals, unprecedented.

by Upstate NY on Thu May 15th, 2008 at 05:23:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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