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Elections are coming up! On my birthday, too!
All political parties that started campaigning were so nice that they gave me ridiculously bad coalitions, slogans and advertisements as my birthday gift. Seriously, I have no other explanation, so lemme point out few that come to mind:
Democratic party of Serbia (a.k.a. Judean People’s Front)
The party with the incumbent prime minister came up with a slogan, which is in no way populist, “Long live Serbia!” Their main coalition partner will be New Serbia “because of coalition’s previous success on local elections.” I really underestimated Koštunica (our current PM) when I said he was a “master of populist puppetry”.
Democratic party (a.k.a. People’s Front of Judea)
Our biggest democratic party striked us with a rather morbid quote of late Zoran Đinđić: “People, we only got one life!” Aside for obvious theological implications, I’m very dissapointed that a political party has to use images of a dead person (no matter how good a prime minister he was) to promote themselves. It does make me think they don’t have anybody who is good AND has a pulse.
Their campaign started with a proposal to rename Boulevard of AVNOJ to Boulevard of Zoran Đinđić. That would be groovy, if AVNOJ wasn’t the Anti-fascist council of people’s liberation of Yugoslavia. Saving the world from fascism is nice in anyone’s portfolio, so taking away AVNOJ’s boulevard would be like changing a street named after Winston Churchill to carry Margaret Thatcher’s name.
Liberal Democratic Party et al.
I’d like them to get into the Parliament. Their unique non-sloven appearance, realism on Kosovo and no “Long live Serbia” chants, would make them perfect to stir things up a notch. Especially considering people like Petar Luković are on the list (imagine a Feral Tribune’s columnist giving a speech in front of the Parliament!).
But, and its a big but, for some reason they invited demo-christians Vladan Batić and Milan St. Protić to their list. I would hate to vote for somebody who writes his name using middle initials “St.”, but I also think that a civic coalition should NOT, under any circumstances, have a guy who invites a priest to bless the embassy building in Washington on their list.
Serbian Radical Party
Finally, my favorite: their campaign started with the party’s president, Vojislav Šešelj, going on hunger strike in the Internatinal Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s prison.
Fat people should not go on hunger strikes.
UPDATE: We just had our first candidate (Mlađan Dinkić of G17+) promise to have a solution that will allow Serbia to keep (or get) sovereignity over Kosovo. Of course, he did not specify his plan, but it seems it involves money.
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A friend of mine and I were forced to hide from rain (because we are so fragile we would melt like sugar) in a building entranc the other day. As we discussed the unseasonal weather and how our, otherwise pleasent, evening in the park was ruined, a large piece of mortar** fell from the balcony above.
“Jesus H. Christ*, that thing nearly killed us both!” – my friend exclaimed something rather similar to that expression, as the piece of mortar has in fact nearly killed us both.
Good, obliging, citizens that we are, still heavily shocked by the falling building, we tried to warn the first lady who walked into the building.
“I wouldn’t worry ’bout it… It only falls when it’s windy, or raining…” – she tried to calm us down.
But we wouldn’t give up. Suddenly, standing out in rain seemed safer than under a “roof”. Still humming Balašević’s “Ako umrem mlad”*** under our breath, we tried to warn other neighbours too.
“So what!? My pension is so small I wouldn’t mind getting killed by the facade!”
“Oh, yes, I heard about that. Only in Serbia can such a thing go on for years! Gotta run.”
“I don’t live here… permanently.”
“It’s been falling since 1994. I think the new constitution bans falling mortar, doesn’t it?”
“No boys, I have no change to spare… Oh, you are not punks!? The balcony is falling? Ha ha, I hope it falls while that bastard is watering his flowers!”
We walked away silently.
* Not the expression he used, but you get the point.
** Mortar is malter, not the gun thing in this context, my Balkanian readers.
*** Lethargic song about death.
It seems that, after the referendum, it’s once again us vs. them. Perhaps it is good to get polarized and to put patriots on one side and everybody else on the other (I’m among everybody else, apparently). Dividing issue this time will be Kosovo.
Appropriately, it’s cold and melancholic in Belgrade. I was standing at Hotel Moskva last night, and unzipped my jacket. The cold wind filled my bones and I got so light that the wind blew me right back to Kalemegdan. Three times.
I’ll get back to you all when I gather my thoughts.
P.S. No, I will not be moving to LiveJournal nor am I turning this blog personal!
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Serbia is about to get a new constitution. This entire weekend, we will be able to vote in an referendum on whether to approve something that entire parliament passed.
Personally, I am not sure whether to boycott or to vote no.
I would boycott it because there was no public input in writing of this constitution, to call media coverage of opinions biased would be an understatement of the year, and the document is full of “Kosovo is Serbia” statements (e.g. preamble, or president’s oath).
On the other hand, I would vote no because minority rights are not adequately protected and because democracy is not institutionalized. The latter is primary in my opinion, really: we will still not vote for people, but for lists of people for the parliament and institutions are not adequately defined and separated. I simply don’t see how my vote will ever count nor how I will get any sort of representation in this country. There is no individual person representing me, nor my vote.
Finally, there is a good thing or two about this document. It will allow for positive discrimination and protects my right not to serve army under arms (even in war, if I read this correctly), which is probably the first step to abolishing conscription. It’s nowhere as good as pledging not to have army any more, of course.
But overall, lack of governmental representation, transparency and responsibility, as well as the fact that it all smells of project “Great Serbia” are all enough for me to be against proposed constitution.
P.S. I deliberately did not quote any parts of the document, because it is simply badly written in its concept, full of dubious compromises (political ones, regarding current affairs) and not worthy detailed discussion. Use Google to find the full text if you haven’t read it yet.
P.P.S. Whether it passes or not, I don’t care, because one thing we learned in last 15 years is that nobody gives a flying fuck about law in this country, especially the ones which don’t carry any punishment (like the Constitution).
Although I haven’t seen them all, I can safely say that Mostar is the town with most “something so wonderful, but I can’t quite explain what it is” in the world. During 1990s, this city suffered a lot and is now a monument to the everlasting human stupidity.
This is what happened:
Mostar is divided into two parts by the River Neretva. For centuries, people were fine with this, and furthermore, they built bridges to be able to cross the river. Citizens of Mostar, doing idiotic things like all Balkanites do, also realized they are able to fall off a 5 centuries old bridge and survive a 25 meter jump into an ice cold, rapid, shallow, river. They decided to make it a local sport, and they started competing. The legend says, one guy jumped off the bridge, kept falling for 300 meters before hitting the water stayed under surface until dinner time. He said he went out of the water just because it was January and he wanted to go skiing.
The horror of this sport had to stop, of course, so somebody wisely decided to destroy the bridge in 1993, during a battle which proved that strategically most important places in Mostar are a public pool and a cheese market.
A new bridge has been built. Music academy and a high school’s facade are still waiting for better days. Still, I will give you this piece of wisdom:
“Volim Mostar – Makar ‘vaki”
“I love Mostar – Even if it’s like this”
An old chap from Gornji Milanovac, the kind of guy that can tell you dozens of “during the war” stories, made his little pilgrimage on Wednesday towards the highest peak of the Rudnik mountain. Carrying a scythe, he passed on several ride offers, but still had strength to mow the lawn at the place where 63 years ago the First Šumadian Brigade was formed.
On Thursday, October 5th of each year, people from around Šumadija gather around that place to commemorate the event. In 1943, two years into the war, a group of (mostly) students from Belgrade and other cities came together to form the first Partisan, anti-fascist, forces in central Serbia. Most of them never slept in the woods before, let alone tried to survive for longer time, and the brigade never made it through the winter.
I will probably be the only blogger to write about this today. Most others, if they make an effort, will discuss if October 5th, the day when Milošević was ousted, is a positive or a negative thing, if nothing changed or if it is better today.
I can only say that since 5/10/2000, there haven’t been any wars around here.