14 August 2020

IEŚ Working Papers 3/2020: „Jedan od pet miliona”: protesty społeczne w Serbii (“One of Five Million”: Civic Protests in Serbia)

IEŚ Working Papers 3/2020: „Jedan od pet miliona”: protesty społeczne w Serbii (“One of Five Million”: Civic Protests in Serbia)

IEŚ Working Papers: Jedan od pet miliona”: protesty społeczne w Serbii (“One of Five Million”: Civic Protests in Serbia) by Konrad Pawłowski  – the third volume of IEŚ Working Papers series has been published.

Editors: Beata Surmacz, Tomasz Stępniewski

In November 2018, one of the leading politicians of the Serbian opposition was beaten up by a group of hooligans in Serbia. This incident caused a wave of outrage throughout the Serbian society and led to the outbreak of the largest anti-government protests since the overthrow of Yugoslav  President Slobodan Milošević (2000).

According to the organizers’ intentions, the demonstrations, which function under the slogan “One of Five Million”, are for mally devoid of any political affiliation and represent a genuine civic opposition to the system of government which functions in Serbia under the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and President Aleksandar Vučić. The people who have participated in the protests represent various ideological positions and political views. The opposition political parties associated within the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) are, however, closely involved in the organization of the demonstrations.  These circumstances relativize the declaratively civic and apolitical nature of the protests and inevitably politicize the demonstrations.

The participants of the protests are accusing the authorities of serious violations of the rules of democracy and demanding a widely defined normalization of political life in Serbia. Despite declarations from the politicians of the opposition, the “One of Five Million” protests did not lead to a political breakthrough in Serbia. The declining scale and dynamics of the demonstrations show that Serbia’s ruling camp still enjoys a real support from the society, while the opposition parties (SzS) are unable to build a broad public support against the current Serbian authorities. The ongoing political crisis has led to a political stalemate in Serbia. In effect, the authorities are partially weakened, while the opposition does not know how to revitalize the declining anti-government protests. This situation reduces the ability of the current government in Belgrade to make difficult political decisions in its foreign policy concerning Serbia (the Kosovo question).

The political opposition in Serbia remains weak, divided and unable to take over power in the country by either constitutional (elections) or non-constitutional (political upheaval) means. Within the atmosphere of mutual accusations between the government and the protesting opposition, the internal political crisis in Serbia continues. It seems that the only way to overcome the ongoing political impasse in Serbia is an actual political dialogue between the authorities and the opposition