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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BELGRADE75 2007-01-19 16:51:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

POLLING: DEMOCRATIC BLOC PARTIES STILL LEADING

Tags:   PGOV PREL KDEM SR 
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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBW #0075/01 0191651
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191651Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0094
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 000075 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM SR
SUBJECT: POLLING: DEMOCRATIC BLOC PARTIES STILL LEADING
NATIONALISTS ON EVE OF ELECTIONS


SUMMARY
-------


1. (SBU) Most observers and pollsters give the Radical
Party an edge over the Democratic Party in the contest for
the top vote-getter in Sunday's elections, although two
respected Serbian polling agencies for the first time since
2003 have give the DS higher political ratings than the
SRS. Prime Minister Kostunica's DSS places a strong third
in all major surveys, while G17 Plus is the only party of
the four remaining contenders that looks virtually certain
to make the five-percent threshold. Turnout, which is
projected to be between 50-60 percent, is likely to
determine whether the Socialists and Ceda Jovanovic's LDP
make threshold, with lower turnout favoring SPS and higher
turnout favoring LDP. Kostunica may be counting on the G-
17+ and 6-7 minority party seats to give him enough
bargaining power to remain prime minister. DS officials,
however, hope to outpoll the DSS and its allies to place
them in the driver's seat in coalition talks. It seems
unlikely that any coalition emerging from these elections
will espouse a fundamentally different position on Kosovo
than the current government. End Summary.

FINAL PREELECTION POLLING NUMBERS


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




2. (SBU) Twenty election lists will be on the ballot when
Serbian voters go to the polls on Sunday, including six
representing ethnic minority parties. Of the 14 parties
subject to a five-percent threshold necessary to earn a
place in parliament, however, only three--the Serbian
Radical Party (SRS), Democratic Party (DS), and the
coalition led by the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)--are
guaranteed to cross the threshold and only four others
appear to have a fighting chance of doing so, according to
the latest survey results from Serbia's most respected
polling agencies.

SCAN CeSID SMMRI Gallup Avg.
SRS 27 26 30 29 28
DS 31 30 26 24 28
DSS-NS 16 19 18 19 18
G17+ 6 8 8 7 7
SPS 5 6 4 6 5
LDP+ 5 5 5 5 5
SPO 4 4 3 4 4



3. (SBU) The Scan and CeSID polling results are notable
for marking the first time since 2003 that a party other
than the Radicals commands the highest political ratings in
Serbia. Even high-level DS officials, however, have
expressed strong doubts to Poloffs about their chances of
outpacing the Radicals on Sunday, and both Strategic
Marketing (SMMRI) chief Srdjan Bogosavljevic and Medium
Gallup chief Srbobran Brankovic are convinced that the
SRS's dedicated electoral base and campaign surge since
Orthodox Christmas will be enough to beat the DS.

TURNOUT CRITICAL TO CHANCES OF SMALLER PARTIES


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

-


4. (SBU) Of the four other main contenders, pollsters
agree that Mladjan Dinkic's G17 Plus is almost certain to
cross the election census and Foreign Minister Vuk
Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has only a slim
chance of doing so. Dinkic by all accounts has conducted
the most focused, energetic, and effective campaign, while
Draskovic has largely failed to overcome the perception
that a vote for his party is a wasted one. Ceda Jovanovic's
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) coalition has seen its
prospects suffer from a surging DS campaign and less
exposure granted to the coalition's campaign by Serbia's
media.



5. (SBU) Pollsters generally have been surprised at the
degree to which the coalition bringing together the United
Pensioners Party and Nebojsa Covic's Social Democratic
Party (PUPS-SDP) appears to have siphoned off votes from
the Socialist Party and put the SPS at risk of falling
short of the five-percent threshold. Brankovic and Scan's
Milka Puzigaca both expect the SPS to make it into
parliament if turnout does not exceed 55 percent, as they
both currently project, but the SPS's chances are dim if
turnout reaches 58-60 percent, as Strategic Marketing and
CeSID project. Bogosavljevic believes that SPS leader Ivica
Dacic's 3.6 percent showing in the 2004 presidential
elections are a more accurate barometer of the SPS's
current chances than the party's 7.6 percent result in the
2003 parliamentary elections, since the party can no longer
rely on their traditional voters' loyalty to the late
Slobodan Milosevic.

MINORITY PARTIES

BELGRADE 00000075 002 OF 002




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




6. (SBU) Six out of the 20 election lists represent ethnic
minority parties, which only need to cross the "natural"
threshold of 12,000-16,000 votes per deputy seat, depending
on turnout. The Republican Election Commission also granted
these parties a lower threshold of required signatures--
3,000 instead of the minimum 10,000 demanded by the
election law--to make it onto the ballot. This
controversial decision may face a legal challenge by Josef
Kasa's Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) if its co-
ethnic competitor, the Hungarian Concord coalition, passes
the natural threshold, since the SVM is the only minority
party that obtained 10,000 signatures. In addition to these
two Hungarian parties, Sulejman Ugljanin's Bosniak List for
Sandzak (LZV), the Coalition of Albanians of the Presevo
Valley, and two Roma parties--the Union of Roma of Serbia
(URS) and the Roma Party--also are on the ballot.



7. (SBU) Kasa has stated publicly that he would be
disappointed if he does not earn at least four deputy
seats, while Ugljanin is unlikely to win more than two
seats and the ethnic Albanian list will be lucky to win
more than one seat. Ugljanin's archnemesis, Rasim Ljajic,
chose to piggyback on the DS election list, in exchange for
guarantees that his Sandzak Democratic Party would get at
least three parliamentary seats. The two Roma parties'
chances are far more uncertain, given the traditional
factionalization of Roma politics, the high abstention
rates of Roma, and the tendency of the vast majority of
Roma voters to support the major Serbian parties, including
the Radicals.

POST-ELECTION CALCULATIONS


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




9. (SBU) It is possible that the votes of the minority
parties will be necessary to secure a parliamentary
majority for Serbia's new governing coalition and will be
critical in determining whether President Tadic or Prime
Minister Kostunica has the upper hand in coalition
negotiations. The DSS is supporting, to varying degrees,
the SVM, LZV, and URS campaigns, so even if DS
significantly outpaces the DSS, Kostunica appears to be
counting on the 6-7 seats that these three minority parties
are likely to gain and G17's support to give him sufficient
bargaining power to retain his position as prime minister.
Bogosavljevic, who regularly advises the DS, warned that a
parity of seats between DS on the one hand and DSS and G17
on the other could be a formula for stalemate in coalition
negotiations and even increase the risk of repeat
elections.



10. (SBU) Tadic's deputy chief of staff Branko Radujko
told us, however, that the DS will be in the driver's seat
in coalition talks as long as the total number of seats
gained by the DSS and SRS does not reach 126 seats, which
represents a parliamentary majority. Although DSS officials
have told us privately that they have no intention of
exploring a coalition with the Radicals, they have refused
publicly to exclude the possibility apparently in order to
maximize the party's leverage in future coalition talks
with the DS. The SRS has publicly ruled out a coalition
with the DSS.

COMMENT


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




11. (SBU) The latest poll results reaffirm that a DSS-DS
government is the most likely coalition emerging from
Sunday's parliamentary elections. Negotiations will depend
on the final seat count in an election in which it is
almost impossible to predict final numbers. The latest
polling is within the margin of error on whether the
Socialists, the SPO and the LDP cross the five percent
threshold, a critical factor in the final distribution of
mandates. In any event, negotiations to form a government
will not be easy and could drag on for several months.

POLT