Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in Serbia on May 6, 2012, under difficult domestic and foreign political conditions. The minority government of the non-party Prime Minister Cvetković, which in any case only ruled through the support of the LDP, was further weakened in the course of its mandate by the departure of smaller coalition partners – initially by the G17 Plus, and against the end of the SPO’s mandate. The policy of President Tadić and his ruling DS of “Kosovo and EU” – the simultaneous striving for EU membership and the insistence on Kosovo as an integral part of the Serbian state – despite the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state by 22 of the 27 member states of the Union – experienced its visible failure with the more resolute stance of the EU after the unrest in Kosovo in summer 2011. Belgrade’s surrender to the EU-led negotiations with Pristina brought Tadic and his party in March 2012 the EU candidate status, which is so important for the upcoming elections. Despite this foreign policy drama, the poor socio-economic situation of Serbia and not Kosovo dominated the election campaign.
On May 6th, 2012 the citizens of Serbia elected a new parliament. According to extrareference, the electoral alliance of the SNS was the strongest force with 24% and 73 parliamentary seats, followed by the DS with 22% (67 seats). The SPS of Interior Minister Ivica Dačić was the surprising election winner, almost doubling its share of the vote to 14.5% (44 seats). In addition to the representatives of the ethnic minorities from the smaller parties, the DSS with 7% of the votes (21 seats), the LDP with 6.5% of the votes (19 seats) and the URS with 5% of the votes (17 seats) moved into parliament. a.
Since President Tadić was consistently ahead of his party’s personal popularity ratings in polls, he decided to resign in April to pave the way for early presidential elections, which will take place in parallel to the parliamentary elections. In the first round of the presidential elections, incumbent Tadić prevailed just ahead of challenger Nikolić with 25.3% against 24.9%. Both contested the runoff election on May 20. Despite previous leadership, challenger Tomislav Nikolić surprisingly prevailed in the second ballot on May 20. He won 49.8% of the votes, the defeated incumbent 47.1% of the votes.
The surprising outcome of the presidential elections had stalled the negotiations between DS and SPS, which began after the parliamentary elections, to form a new government coalition. After several weeks of uncertainty about the political orientation of the SPS, President Nikolić gave its party chairman Dačić the mandate to form a government with the SNS and some smaller parties on June 28, after the SNS had previously succeeded in offering the post of Prime Minister to Dačić To win SPS for a common government.
With this election victory and subsequent coalition formation, a historically new situation developed for the Serbian post-war and post-Milošević era. For the first time, two regime parties in the 1990’s, the SPS and the successor party to the SRS – the SNS – formed the government again. This government also brought an unusual trio of president, prime minister and vice premier to its head. By relinquishing the chairmanship of the party, President Nikolić (formally) gave up his position as an actually strong man. Prime Minister Dačić moved up to the politically weak position of the head of government under the previous government, although chairman only of the smaller coalition party; at the same time he kept his post as Minister of the Interior. Surprisingly, the new chairman of the big coalition party, the SNS, Vučić rose to become the actually strong man. This abundance of power was based on the one hand on his party position and less on his function as the new defense minister; He gained additional power through his unusual role as government coordinator for anti-corruption and as coordinator of all security agencies.
Contrary to its roots in the nationalist war era of the 1990’s, the new coalition is continuing the previous government’s policy of EU integration. At the same time, to the surprise of many observers (while maintaining nationalist political tones) in Kosovo politics, it swung into an intensification of the dialogue with Pristina – demanded by the EU and the USA.
On September 2nd, 2013, just over a year after it was formed, the Serbian parliament carried out a far-reaching reform of the government adopted. This was preceded by months of tug-of-war between the three governing parties SNS, SPS and URS, during which early elections were also under discussion. At the end of this process, the smallest coalition partner, the URS, was kicked out and the weights were redistributed between the two remaining governing parties. A total of 11 new ministers were sworn in, including 6 non-party experts – a novelty in recent Serbian history. With the division of the previous super ministry for finance and economy, an additional ministry was created. While Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić relinquished head of the Ministry of Defense, Prime Minister Dačić retained the post of Interior Minister. Among the new ministers without portfolio, the Secretary General of the SPS, Branko Ružić,
The reasons for the government reshuffle remained unclear. Prime Minister Dačić and Deputy Vučić justified the move with the unsatisfactory performance of some of the ministers, but above all as an expression of a determined will to reform financial and economic policy. The name of the 29-year-old, non-party Yale graduate Lazar Krstić stands for this. The interest of the SNS in that its dominant position of power is more clearly expressed in the distribution of the ministries may have played a no less important reason.
The government reshuffle took place at a time when domestic issues and the central reform requirements were moving back to the center of the political process. This was the case after the government had succeeded in setting the course for EU integration and the conflict over Kosovo.