10.05.2012 Belgrade

Is Serbian Progressive Party facing a possible split?

Is Serbian Progressive Party facing a possible split?
The fact that Tomislav Nikolic received significantly more votes in Belgrade than SNS candidate for a mayor Aleksandar Vucic has led to tensions in the party leadership and mutual accusations.


The informed say that after the two conflicts Nikolic and Vucic previously had, this is the most serious one and sufficient to lead to a split. The unusual silence that prevailed after the elections in the coalition gathered around the SNS has once again stirred up the doubts about the strained relations between its leaders - president Tomislav Nikolic and vice president Aleksandar Vucic. The journalists who were reporting on the election night were surprised by the fact that Nikolic and Vucic did not come together to publish the results and then share the impressions with their party colleagues and the media. Those familiar with the situation in the party say that the their friendly relations in public do not change the main point.

The reason for the quarrels was the fact that Nikolic, who is traditionally more inclined towards the suburbs and Sumadija, got more votes in Belgrade than SNS candidate for mayor Aleksandar Vucic. According to unofficial preliminary results, Tomislav Nikolic has won a few percent more votes in Belgrade than the republican list and much more than the city list. In fact, the variance between Nikolic and Vucic lies in ten percent of the votes in Belgrade.

Making speculations, daily newspapers published that Vucic was supposedly angry with the team who led the SNS campaign and hasn’t supported him enough. Apparently, all party’s capacities were focused on parliamentary and presidential elections and media resources were used for "brushing up" Nikolic’s biography and clarifying the story about the mysterious graduation. Vucic was reportedly unhappy with how the party reacted to what it seemed as a great marketing move - the arrival of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The leadership of the party got confused in explaining what was Giuliani doing in Belgrade - first he was personally invited by Vucic, than he was not paid, and last nonsense was that he came to Belgrade to visit his long-lost friend. All this significantly affected Vucic’s campaign which had received fairly good marks from experts for originality and perseverance.

Unofficial sources claim that the current conflict in SNS leadership is only the continuing disagreement from one year ago when Nikolic decided to start the hunger strike and triggered the first significant drop in party’s ratings.

According to the professor of the Faculty of Political Sciences Slavisa Orlovic, the party’s campaign has not been consistent enough in Belgrade and at the national level.

"The two-headed leadership of the party and the candidacy for two different positions determined the tone and course of the campaign. Aleksandar Vucic mainly dealt with city issues and Tomislav Nikolic with more global ones. In addition, Vucic is more prone to quarreling than Nikolic," says Orlovic.

The fact that that something important was happening in the SNS was evident even on Sunday night, when Vucic left the party’s premises due to "bad" results. The question is what can be expected now?

"The first indications of further developments in the SNS can be seen only after the second round of presidential elections. Nikolic has announced that he would turn the Democrats into the opposition, while they are trying to send him into retirement. Of course, Vucic intends to be in politics longer than Nikolic," cautiously says Orlovic.

A certain rivalry and partly distrust have been accompanying Nikolic and Vucic since the founding of the party. We should not forget that Vucic’s fidelity to Vojislav Seselj was slightly longer than Nikolic’s. The first indications of disagreements go back to the time before Nikolic’s hunger strike that was a secret even for Vucic. The experts in political situations say that prominent advisor of SNS at that time wanted to leave his job. It is no secret that the diplomatic corps in Belgrade sees Vucic as a future leader, while Nikolic is more seen as an interim solution, the eternal loser and someone who should soon go to a well-deserved retirement.

Well-informed circles also speculated that even before the dispute with the hunger strike the two had disputes and thus, at the end the municipal and city councils "split" - Vucic and Nikolic have their own "political latifundia" and communicate only with their supporters.

Vucic: There was no argument

Nikolic and Vucic today denied that they had a fight after the elections on May 6th and that the party’s is facing a possible split.

"Shame on any person who wrote it," said Vucic at a news conference in front of the National Assembly of Serbia when asked to confirm the quotes that he and Nikolic had a disagreement about the election results.

Vucic added that he and Nikolic have never had a fight even though the media loyal to the authorities repeatedly tried to cause quarrels between them, and Nikolic confirmed his words.

Then the two of them posed together for the cameras.

author: JJ source: Novi magazin
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