Serb voters resigned to the Devil they know

Yugoslavia, the rump state comprising Serbia and Montenegro, holds parliamentary elections tomorrow that seem likely to produce a victory for the leftist coalition of Serbia's President, Slobodan Milosevic.

"The united forces of peace and development. . . will celebrate an historical victory over hatred, violence and conservatism," Mr Milosevic told a 6,000- strong crowd in Belgrade last Thursday.

In some ways, it seems astonishing that Mr Milosevic should retain the support of the Serbian electorate, given that he has presided over a period of economic collapse as well as nationalist wars in Croatia and Bosnia which failed to achieve the goal of pan-Serb unification that he proclaimed in 1991. However, Mr Milosevic benefits from the fact that his political opponents are internally divided, harassed by the state, and apparently unable to alter the deferential attitudes of Serbian voters towards authority.

The Serbian opposition has put together an electoral coalition, known as Zajedno (Together), which combines political forces from the liberal centre and independent trade unions to the nationalist right. However, in the unlikely event of victory, few political commentators expect the coalition to stick together.

The odds against the opposition are enormous. State television and radio, the main source of political news for Serbs, have lavished praise on Mr Milosevic for contributing to the 1995 Dayton peace settlement in Bosnia, and have entirely ignored the fact that he stoked the Croatian and Bosnian wars in the first place.

Opposition campaigners have drawn fairly large crowds at electoral rallies in Serbia and Montenegro where they have denounced Mr Milosevic's nine- year period in office.

However, few if any of these rallies have received coverage on state television.

The main opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic, this week accused Mr Milosevic and his hardline Marxist wife, Mirjana Markovic, of trying to win re-election by resurrecting the World War Two divisions between Serbian royalists and anti-Nazi partisans. "They are calling for hatred, new trenches and new divisions. They want to step back to 1941. They don't want to move on to the 21st century," he said.

The best chance for the opposition may lie in the sheer desperation of Serbs, whose standards of living have plunged under Mr Milosevic. A Red Cross study estimated recently that almost three million people - or 28.9 per cent of the Serb and Montenegrin populations - lived in poverty.

In Belgrade and important industrial centres such as Kragujevac and Nis, workers have struck in the past three months to demand the prompt payment of wages. Average per capita income is the equivalent of about pounds 85 a month, the worst level since the 1960s.

However, for many Serbian voters suspicious of change and conscious of the authoritarian pressures on their lives, Mr Milosevic remains the logical choice. His term as president of Serbia expires next year and it is expected he will create the post of Yugoslav president, enabling him to rule unchallenged for another seven years.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam