Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's the economy, stupid

In 1990 Bush senior was basking in the glory of just having won the first Gulf War against Saddam. Then Clinton came along with his emphasis on the economy and he beat Bush in the elections. His lesson: "it's the economy, stupid!".

Serbia's nationalist opposition seems about to make the same mistake as Bush. They got most of their votes because many voters had become fed up with Tadic and his DS. Those voters find the government too corrupt and its model of economic development doing too little for the poor people. Yet if you look at the coalition talks between SPS, DSS and the Radicals the economy is hardly heared of. It is all about the Europe and the SAA.

I would have expected the coalition partners to decide to some study commission on the SAA and to a decision that if that didn't deliver any troubling data the treaty would be ratified. That way they would have put the subject behind them and they could have concentrated on the economy. But instead they seem determined to get stuck in vague nationalistic projects. In this respect it doesn't help either that both the SPS and the Radicals have judicial wishes.

The DSS even published a study that the signing of the SAA was illegal. This might be interesting if a majority of parliament was against the signing. But that being not the case (even the Radicals approve it) they would do better to pay attention to the real problem: president Tadic behaving like an unguided missile after the government had fallen. SerbĂ­a's polical parties need some serious talk to better specify the tasks of the president. That might include some new legislation. Predicability of procedures is an essential element of democracy. Without it there can be no real trust.

The Radicals became large by positioning themselves as the honest alternative for the "greedy elitist" reformers. Now they have the chance to deliver. If they fail to do so they risk to be marginalised by some other party that better understands what the voters want.