Seselj Rails Against Coalition Parties

Vojislav Seselj may be attempting to woo back supporters he lost when his party joined the governing coalition

Seselj Rails Against Coalition Parties

Vojislav Seselj may be attempting to woo back supporters he lost when his party joined the governing coalition

Tuesday, 1 August, 2000

The head of the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, Vojislav Seselj, has openly attacked his partners in the ruling coalition, Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party and the Yugoslav Left headed by his wife Mira Markovic.

His remarks expose tensions within the government and may signal his intention to run an independent pre-election campaign.

In a recent interview with the Belgrade weekly, Nedeljni

Telegraf, Seselj condemned the domination of various institutions by

people close to the Yugoslav Left, JUL. He also lambasted the Yugoslav

Army, VJ - an institution normally considered beyond criticism -accusing its leader

General Nebojsa Pavkovic, of creating his own

personality cult.

Seselj complained that the general was elevating his own role by publishing

books through the Yugoslav Army. "It's all very well for General Pavkovic

to write and publish books privately in his spare time, but it is not

acceptable for his work to be published by the Yugoslav Army," he said.

The VJ's publishing house recently published "On the Media Front", a

compilation of Pavkovic's interviews and media statements, and a book about

the Yugoslav Army leadership, which included an exhaustive

portrait of the general. Extensive photographs of Pavkovic in both

military and civilian life were included.

Seselj compared the books to the

various tomes of former Yugoslav ruler, Josip Broz Tito, saying they

had "no academic value". He also complained that Pavkovic's public

pronouncements are "frequently ideologically tainted, which is not good at


By attacking Pavkovic, Seseljl was sending an indirect message to

the ruling couple. The general is known to be closely linked to Mira

Markovic's party JUL. The Pavkovics have often been seen in public with the ruling

couple, who use their public appearances as a coded way of bestowing

approval on selected companions.

Seselj also criticised SPS and JUL influence within the Serbian

Security Service, SDB. He said JUL members should be removed from the leadership of

the national oil company, NIS, and the Politika media enterprise.

Conflict first arose between the SRS and JUL over a controversial

JUL-sponsored anti-terrorism law. Opposition from

Seselj's precipitated its defeat in the federal

parliament. Although Seselj said his party had withheld support because

of a "lack of precision and clarity", it was thought the real reason

was a fear it might ultimately be used against him and his party.

Political observers in Belgrade agree that by criticising state

institutions, Seselj has not only exposed conflicts in the ruling

coalition, but may also be laying the groundwork for an independent

pre-election campaign. By skilfully distancing himself from JUL, he is creating a platform for

himself. Moreover, he needs to find a way to win back supporters who

abandoned the SRS when it joined the SPS-JUL coalition. Their votes are

sorely needed if the SRS is to improve its ratings.

Istvan Molnar is the pseudonym of an independent journalist in Belgrade

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