Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Organizational instability of the Serbian governments: Fifth SNS cabinet

By Boban Stojanović (University of Belgrade)

Serbia gets a new, fifth government since the 2012, when the Serbian Progressive Party came to power. After the election in 2012, we had twice early parliamentary elections, in 2014 on which Vučić had the goal to further increase his power and increase the number of MPs. With the same goal, but also because of local elections, he called elections for the National Assembly in 2016, whose mandate is still ongoing. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, as we announcedafter the elections in 2016, decided to run for the President of the Republic and win presidential elections in the first round. When he resigned as PM on June 30th, rest is to choose a person who will succeed him as PM. After a period of uncertainty about the next PM, Vučić, although the party “demanded” that the PM must be from the SNS, decided to choose Ana Brnabić, a first LGBT minister in Serbia from his previous government. Although was a created atmosphere that it was questionable whether the majority would be provided for her, she was elected with 157 votes (out of 250).

It is clear to everyone that Ana Brnabić will not lead the government independently and that the policy will be led by the President of the Republic and SNS President – Aleksandar Vučić. The election of Ana Brnabić as PM can not speak much to us at this moment, except that it is very likely that her government will not last for a long time (as did the previous Vučić’s) and that it is possible that we will have another early parliamentary elections in Serbia together with local elections in Belgrade, which must be held no later than spring next year.

In support of this, there are three things:

1) The election of an independent expert for the PM instead of party politicians, because it is possible that Vučić did not want someone from his party or coalition to be PM who will be short term solution and “consumable goods”;

2) If the elections were held only in Belgrade, it is certain that the SNS would not easily win, as shown the results of the presidential elections in Belgrade in which Vučić did not win more than 50% of the votes. In addition, dissolved and unorganized opposition, which is in a big problem with activists and, above all, money – would be able to direct resources only to local elections in Belgrade and try to cause problems to the SNS. If parliamentary elections were held at the same time with local elections in Belgrade, the opposition would be in big problem and city elections in that context would lose importance;

3) Parliamentary elections in the spring of 2018 would link the mandate of the newly elected parliament and the mandate of the President of the Republic. In this way, in 2022, we would have together parliamentary and presidential elections, which would certainly be useful for SNS.
Of course, the decision will be made exclusively by Aleksandar Vučić and I am sure that he will measure the potential benefits and risks of the new early parliamentary elections. Looking at the moment, it seems that there are many more benefits than risks for new parliamentary elections.
When talking about the changes in new Brnabić’s government, does not much differ from the previous government of Aleksandar Vučić. We have two new ministries (Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of European Integration) and one minister without portfolio. Also, the two ministers only replaced the ministries.

However, what is the specificity of previous governments (Dačić I, Dačić II, Vučić I, Vučić II and Brnabić) which form almost the same parties all the time (coalition around the SNS and a coalition around the SPS, the only exception is the URS that was in the government only in the period 2012-2013) is serious organizational instability – very frequent, almost annual changes of ministries and ministers. Given that the governments that form by the same parties should show a clear system of governance, job organization, continuity in governance and policies – it is clear that through the view of the composition of governments and organization of ministries, there is evident instability in the governance of the state.

The basic review of the composition of governments since 2012 has shown:

– 48 ministers passed through the government;

– That only 6 ministries have remained the same all the time (departments not separated, nor added – Ministry of Defense; Ministry of Interior; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development; Ministry of Culture and Media and Ministry of Youth and Sport);

– 9 ministers is completely changed departments (Ivica Dačić: Ministry of Interior – Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dušan Vujović: Ministry of Economy – Ministry of Finance; Goran Knežević: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy – Ministry of Economy; Slavica Đukić Dejanović: Ministry of Health – Minister without Portfolio; Aleksandar Antić: Ministry of Transportation – Ministry of Energy and Mining; Zorana Mihajlović: Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection – Ministry of Transportation, Construction and Infrastructure; Velja Ilić: Ministry of of Construction and Urbanism – Minister without Portfolio; Zoran Đorđević: Ministry of Defence – Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy; Aleksandar Vulin two times: Minister without Portfolio in charge of Kosovo and Metohija – Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy – Ministry of Defence.)

– Rasim Ljaljić is the only Minister in the same/similar ministry all the time (added department of tourism in 2014). The second is Vanja Udovicic, who is in four governments in the same ministry (Youth and Sport). No one else was a minister in the same ministry in more than three governments in continuity.

– In the department of Finance and Economy changed seven ministers. Since 2013, when the ministries were divided, we had five ministers of finance and six ministers of economy.

– In two ministries, ministers were changed in each new government, five governments – five different ministers: 1. Ministry of Defence – Vučić, Rodić, Gašić, Đorđević, Vulin; 2. department of local self-government, in different ministries – Kalanović, Mirović, Udovički, Brnabić, Ružić), while in the two ministries for the first time in the government of Ana Brnabić remained the same minister: 1. Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development – Obradović, Jovanović, Verbić, Šarčević; 2. departman of Agriculture in different ministries – Knežević, Glamočić, Bogosavljević Bošković, Nedimović. Also, department of Environmental Protection in different ministries had for ministers: Mihajlović, Bogosavljević Bošković, Nedimović, Trivan.

Such organizational changes within the government and miniseries are characteristic when parties changes in power, but when have governments formed of almost the same parties for five years then these facts point to a strong organizational instability and irresponsibility.

It remains to be seen how much will the new Brnabić’s government to last and whether it will fulfill the entire mandate?

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