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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BELGRADE1809 2006-11-02 14:04:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

SERBIA: COALITION SCENARIOS COALESCING

Tags:   PGOV KDEM PREL SR 
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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBW #1809/01 3061404
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021404Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9686
INFO RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 3562
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 1234
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 001809 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL SR
SUBJECT: SERBIA: COALITION SCENARIOS COALESCING


-------
SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) The current trend in polling data suggests that
the three major parties (DS, DSS, and SRS) are currently
the only parties that will definitively jump the 5 percent
threshold for participation in the parliament. The
Socialists are on the verge of threshold, and most
pollsters agree that they will probably exceed it. The
main pollsters also agree that the chances of an SRS-led
government are slim, even if the SPS qualifies. The DSS
(which may choose to run with its current coalition partner
NS) and DS will probably be able to form a parliamentary
majority on their own. However, if coalitions of smaller
democratic parties, such as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
"Plus" (which consists of LDP, Civic Alliance of Serbia
(GSS), League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), and
Social Democratic Union (SDU)), were also able to make the
threshold, then it would ensure a democratic majority in
Parliament. These smaller progressive parties could keep a
DS/DSS-led government on a forward track. End Summary.

Boost in Radical Support Deceiving


--------------------------




2. (SBU) Local media has reported that the latest polls
show the SRS increasing in support by as much as six
percent. What the media fail to explain, and what the
leading pollsters in Serbia have confirmed to us, is that
this increase in support is in direct correlation to the
decrease in support to the SPS over the same period.
Support for the SRS and the SPS comes from the same section
of the Serbian electorate. When this pool of voters
becomes disgruntled with the SRS for being too harsh in its
rhetoric, they swing toward the SPS. Over the past month,
the SRS has profited from the passing of the constitution,
and courted some of its voting bloc back into the fold by
portraying itself as the force behind the constitution.
The shift does not, however, imply a significant increase
in the overall support for the Radical/Socialist bloc.



3. (SBU) The constitution and the show of party unity that
created and supported it, appears to have re-legitimized
the SRS in the eyes of some of its supporters, especially
those who support Kosovo remaining part of Serbia and
raised lingering questions about the future of the
struggling SPS. According to the hard data, the SRS has
gained about 100,000 more supporters over the past month,
but, at the same time, the SPS has lost approximately
100,000 voters. Overall, the support of both the SRS and
SPS has remained consistent over the past year, at about
one-third of the electorate. But the SRS continues to face
some challenges at the local level; it has lost several
Mayoral elections either to the DS or to DSS-led coalitions
with populists. According to one respected pollster, these
losses are likely to encourage the party to refocus more of
its energy at the local level. We continue to hear reports
that one big reason for SRS interest in changing the local
election law is to allow indirect elections for Mayors to
reverse these losses and to possibly gain control of the
big budget Mayor's office in Belgrade (Radical candidate
Aleksandar Vucic was runner up in the last local elections.)

The Democrats: A Mixed Bag


--------------------------




4. (SBU) Some local media reported that the DS was losing
strength, which latest polls confirm. However, this
support is not going to any other party, but rather into
the void of apathetic non-voters. The DS is still the
largest democratic party, and should take in anywhere
between 24 and 28 percent of the vote, but this percent is
down from earlier numbers this year. Part of the DS problem
stems from Tadic's dual role as president and head of the
DS. Tadic is still quite popular, but this does not seem
to be translating into votes for the DS. In strongholds,
like Vojvodina and Belgrade, the DS continues to lose -
most recently, many say, over feelings that the DS "sold
out" on autonomy protections for Vojvodina in the
constitutional horse-trading. The popularity of Tadic will
help the DS the most if presidential and parliamentary
elections are held simultaneously. Although the DS is
still likely to win a significant number of seats, it will
need a coalition partner, which is most likely the DSS.



5. (SBU) The DSS, on the other hand, appears to be gaining
support as voters correlate the increase in daily standard
of living with the current Government. Recent polls show
that Serbs are more optimistic about the economy then they
were six months ago. In addition, Kostunica, like the
SRS, has successfully profited from the constitution, of

BELGRADE 00001809 002 OF 002


which he has taken personal ownership and has portrayed the
DSS as a nation building party. This, combined with his
tough stance on Kosovo, appear to be helping increase his
numbers.



6. (SBU) While some polls show the smaller democratic
parties, such as the LDP Plus and G17 Plus, as meeting or
surpassing threshold, most pollsters agree that it will be
difficult and could be extremely close. SPO, in all cases
and without a coalition partner, will not pass the threshold.
G17 Plus leader Dinkic inexplicably dashed hopes of an SPO-
G17 Plus pre-election coalition recently with public
criticism of SPO leader Draskovic. While Dinkic's personal
popularity is increasing in polling data, this does not
seem to be translating into votes for G17 Plus. Dinkic,
however, appears overconfident, believing that his
popularity can take G17 Plus over the threshold without a
partner. COMMENT: Our GOTV campaign plans to focus on all
of these parties, regardless of size, in order to have as
many democratic voices in the next Parliament as possible.

Realistic Scenarios for Forming Government


--------------------------




7. (SBU) Even if the SPS crosses the threshold, polls
predict SRS and SPS would not be able to form a government
on their own. At maximum, an SRS/SPS coalition could
command 115 seats, well short of the 126 minimum needed to
form a majority. The most likely scenario would be a
DS/DSS coalition that also included NS and minority parties
(which are not subject to the 5 percent threshold). It is
possible that the DSS could choose to join the SRS and SPS
to form a government, but this scenario is highly unlikely.
Kostunica, despite all of his choices in the past year that
have catered to the SPS, has definitively told us he would
never work with the SRS. Similarly, however, Tadic has
reacted very negatively to our inclusion of the LDP, a
party made up of disenchanted former DS members, in our
GOTV efforts and vowed never to work with the LDP.



8. (SBU) The key to curbing the number of SRS seats in
Parliament is turnout--higher is better for the democrats.
All major pollsters are currently reporting turnout at
between 46 and 52 percent, a drop from the 58.7 percent
registered in the 2003 parliamentary elections. Our
polling sources tell us that the Serbian electorate's
turnout on election-day always tends to be greater than the
participation rate suggested by polls. Mobilizing the
million-plus disaffected voters will be key to ensuring
Serbia's next democratic government has a solid enough base
to take more aggressive measures on things like Hague
cooperation, defense reform, judicial reform, and the like.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





9. (SBU) Many here believe an optimum scenario from the
standpoint of the Serbian democratic progress would be one
in which smaller progressive parties cross the threshold.
An LDP-led mini coalition has the potential to qualify, and
its inclusion in Parliament would both bolster a democratic
majority (they attract support mainly from first time
voters and from "never-go-back" disillusioned DS drop
outs.) and serve as a "watchdog" to ensure democratic
reforms and vigorous debate replace the backroom deals and
co-habitation that has plagued the current minority
government from the outset. We are devoting much of our
attention and resources in the coming weeks and months to
our "get out the vote" strategy (reftel) that we hope will
help maximize turnout by energizing the frustrated and
increasingly apathetic demoratic part of the electorate.