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
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:
- 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%.
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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.