Voters’ voices: Serbian election

Al Jazeera asks Serbian voters who they voted for and why.

Serbia has voted, but have they chosen a pro-European or nationalist future?

President Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party (DS) may have won Serbia’s parliamentary election, but it is the Socialist party of Ivica Dacic which is celebrating with an election gain that puts them in an unexpected driving position.

Now both pro-EU and pro-nationalist camps are forced to try to lure the Socialists into a potential coalition if they want to govern Serbia.

With all sides saying it is too early to talk about coalitions, Al Jazeera speaks to voters in Belgrade about who they voted for and why.

Ivan, 23, student

“There is no other solution for Serbia than European integration”

“The nationalist parties are trying to kill our oil industry. They were doing this two days before the elections. It shouldn’t be done before a new government is formed.

“We have an anti-European prime minister [Kostunica] who is probably going to make a different government after the election with the Radical Party, who are almost like a right-wing, nationalist party.

“There is no other solution for Serbia than European integration. All the people that say different, they think that Serbia has other options, but it has not. The whole region is joining the European Union and I think Serbia needs to join the EU as fast as it can.”

Ivana, 25, administrative assistant

“Kosovo was lost a long time ago. I don’t accept the situation, but it is a reality”

Voted for the Democratic Party (DS).

“Many issues, including the economy are very important.

“I have a problem with law and regulations in Serbia because my grandfather owned private land during [Josip Broz] Tito’s time – and it was not allowed during this period – everybody had to work for the state.

“He didn’t pay a tax levy at that time, and so they stole his land from him.

“Kosovo was lost a long time ago. I don’t accept the situation, but it is a reality.

“European integration? I look forward to it. Absolutely.”

Goran Gacesa, 45, army officer

“When Europeans were eating with their hands, Serbia was eating with a knife and fork”

Voted for the Radical Party.

“First and foremost it’s a civic duty to vote and an opportunity to influence the policy of the country.

“[The Radical Party] have been following the activities and results of all political options and they can actually forsee a future course of action.

“Looking at our history, Europe needs Serbia rather than Serbia needing the EU. In medieval times, when Europeans were eating with their hands, Serbia was eating with a knife and fork.

“It’s not inevitable that Serbia will join the EU.

“I am not in favour of direct support for Russia. We need to preserve our identity, and to keep good relations with both Europe and Russia.

“We are still a power, not a great power, but we still have power.”

Nened Petrovic, 32, department store manager

“Life is not as important as territory and borders”

Voted for the “patriotic bloc” (The Democratic Party of Serbia or Radical Party)

“The key issues for me is independence and to preserve the sovereignty of the country and to unify the whole of the country.

“[The “patriotic bloc”] put Serbian interests first, and our population and our current boundaries and relationship with outside countries.

“Serbian people are an old people; Serbia is an old European nation. Europe needs to listen to us, not the other way around, in some cases.

“Serbia should join the EU, but on other terms that are being offered now. Life is not as important as territory and borders.

“The Hague tribunal has proved incompetent and the game with [Ratko Mladic] is a game that is directed by the West.

“But, if he is suspected of crimes, then he must be investigated. But the people who are dealing with this must be outside of politics.”

Snezana Giric, pharmacist and Mirko Giric, TV channel employee

“Ideological influence and rhetoric is what influences young people”

Voted for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

“Our future is important. The LDP are honest, only positivity comes from them. They are generally the best option.

“The ideological influence and rhetoric is what influences young people.

“I am in favour of joining the EU. I think it’s normal and practical. We are in Europe [geographically], so why not.

“Kosovo is not a special issue. It’s not a special story, it went a long time ago.

“There is a lot on this election in terms of the future for our children.

“I hope nothing will change for the worse, but I think there is only one way, and it’s just a matter of whether we choose to get there quickly or more slowly.”

Slavica Milanovic, 48, accountant

“Nobody can live alone beside the rest of the world. We have to integrate”

Voted for the Democratic Party (DS).

“Nobody can live alone beside the rest of the world. We have to integrate [into Europe].

“If you have one bulding and just one neighbour who doesn’t speak with anyone from the rest of the bulding, who is wrong?

“A strong economy is the first priority. If you have a strong economy then everything follows after that.

“The economy is much better than before. Before 2000, all the prices where high and wages were low. It’s not fantastic now, but it’s improving.

“I feel pain for the Serbian people who live in Kosovo. It is a historical cradle of Serbian culture. But the most important thing for Serbia is to be a strong mainland.

“After we join the EU, the struggle for Kosovo can begin, in a diplomatic way.

“I am angry with the older people of the country. I wish they couldn’t vote, because they are very selfish.

“It’s much more important for young people to vote because it’s the older people who have made mistakes in the past and now it’s up to the young people to decide their own future.”

Source : Al Jazeera

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