Serbian Radical Party


Serbian Radical Party
Serbian Radical Party
Српска радикална странка
Srpska radikalna stranka
Leader Vojislav Šešelj (President)
Dragan Todorović (Acting leader)
Founded 23 February 1991
Headquarters Magistratski trg 3, 11080 ZemunBelgrade
Ideology Serbian nationalism
Social conservatism
Anti-globalization
Russophilia
Euroscepticism
Political position Far-right[1][2][3]
International affiliation None
European affiliation None
Official colours Blue
National Assembly
56 / 250
Assembly of Vojvodina
24 / 120
Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija
17 / 45
Website
www.srpskaradikalnastranka.org.rs
Party flag
Serbian Radical Party flag.png
Politics of Serbia
Political parties
Elections

The Serbian Radical Party (Serbian: Српска радикална странка, Srpska radikalna stranka, SRS) is a far-right Serbian nationalist political party in Serbia, founded in 1991.[4][5] Currently the second-largest party in the Serbian National Assembly, it has branches in three of the nations that currently border Serbia – all former federal republics of Yugoslavia. The party is registered as the Party of Serb Radicals in Montenegro, the Serbian Radical Party of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Radical Party of the Serbs in Macedonia. It was active in the Republika Srpska and in the early 1990s founded the Party of Danube Serbs in the Republic of Serbian Krajina, which later broke its ties with the SRS.

Vojislav Šešelj led the party as president during and after the Bosnian War before surrendering to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2003 to stand trial for alleged war crimes. Deputy president Tomislav Nikolić took over as de facto leader[6] and supported the accession of Serbia to the European Union, which Šešelj and his faction continued to oppose. Nikolić and his faction resigned from the party in 2008 over this disagreement, and went on to launch the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

Contents

Background

From the end of the nineteenth century, Serbian politics was constantly plagued by unsolved national problems, key amongst them the large number of Serbs living outside the Serbian national state.[7] Nevertheless, radical right wing organisations were unable to gather significant support until the 1990s;[7] Dimitrije Ljotić's Convent, the most important such organisation in the interwar era, failed to win a single seat in parliament during the 1930s.[7] Both the radical right's general association with Germany, and the endorsement of nationalist aims by the leading centrist parties such as the People's Radical Party undermined support for the radical right.[7] A surge in their activities during the early 1990s was largely the result of the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, economic breakdown, sanctions imposed by the UN, and not least the nationalistic policies pursued by Serbian President Slobodan Milošević from 1987 onwards.[8]

History

Foundation and early years

The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) was formed on 23 February 1991 by the merger of Vojislav Šešelj's Serbian Chetnik Movement (SČP) and the National Radical Party (NRS).[9] The SČP had been formed in 1990, although it was denied official registration due to its overt identification with the historical Chetniks. Formation of the new party followed Šešelj's breakaway from the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) due to internal quarrels with Vuk Drašković; the SPO having been founded by the merger of Šešelj's former Serbian Freedom Movement and Drašković's faction from the Serbian National Renewal.[9] Šešelj was chosen as the first president of the SRS while Tomislav Nikolić, a member of the NRS, became deputy president.[9] Led by Milošević, the Socialist Party (SPS) contributed greatly to the rise of the SRS through its use of the media.[4] With the SRS allowed to promulgate its ultranationalist views on state television, the SPS could present itself as a comparatively moderate, yet still patriotic party.[10] Šešelj promoted popular notions of an "international conspiracy against the Serbs," the foremost of which involved Germany, the Vatican, the CIA, Italy, Turkey, as well as the centrist Serbian political parties. Such conspiracy theories were also promoted by Milošević-controlled media.[11] In 1991, Šešelj became a Member of Parliament as an independent candidate,[12] and created a belligerent image by engaging in physical fights with opponents of the regime.[11]

The Serbian Radical Party headquarters in Zemun, Belgrade.

The 22.6% of the vote won by the SRS in the 1992 parliamentary election confirmed the party's rapid rise and made it the second largest parliamentary party.[13] Šešelj campaigned for the election on issues such as driving Albanians out of Kosovo to Albania, expelling Muslims from Sandžak, and forcing the Croats out of Serbia.[14] Having helped engineer the party's election to parliament,[10] the SPS formed an informal coalition with the SRS,[15] and collaborated on ousting moderate politicians from public office.[10][16][17] However, by late 1993 the parties had turned against each other.[10][16][18] Milošević saw it necessary to change his policies and distance himself from the SRS in order for his new peacemaking orientation to be taken seriously by the West, as well as to counter the effects of United Nations sanctions against the country.[18] Many socialists also feared competition from the party based on its strong growth record.[18] As discord erupted among the opposition including the SRS, Milošević called new elections in 1993. These cut SRS support almost in half, while the SPS increased its share of the vote from 28% to 38%.[19] Although most people had grown tired of the wars, UN sanctions and the catastrophic economic situation, the SRS had also been subjected to powerful regime propaganda and exclusion by the media.[20] Following Milošević's agreement to the Dayton accords in 1995 to bring peace to Bosnia, Šešelj denounced Milošević as the worst traitor in Serbian history, and likened the event to Serbia's greatest defeat since the Battle of Kosovo fought against the Ottoman Empire in 1389.[16]

In 1995, Šešelj and the SRS joined in a "technical coalition" with the centrist Democratic Party (DS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).[21] This gave Šešelj a degree of democratic legitimacy, although the coalition withered away by the end of the same year.[21] When Šešelj beat the SPS candidate for the 1997 presidential election, despite the contest being declared invalid due to low turnout, he was again brought into the Serbian government.[16] In 1998 the SRS and SPO entered the so-called "war" government, and as Deputy Prime Minister, Šešelj passed new information laws and helped launch propaganda offensives against Kosovo Albanians.[22] US officials in turn branded him a "fascist", while the US Department of State declared that they would never deal with him.[16] Following the 1999 NATO occupation of Kosovo, Šešelj resigned from government until his party was enticed to re-enter the administration by the SPS.[22] As the party had held posts under Milošević's regime, it was excluded from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), and suffered a major defeat in the 2000 parliamentary election when Milošević was ousted.[22][23]

During the Yugoslav Wars some SRS supporters including Šešelj were active in paramilitary units loyal to Milošević, serving as his "iron fist" during military campaigns.[5][24] Milošević's regime at times supported Šešelj and provided him with arms, whilst at others it accused him of war crimes.[7] The SRS was also provided with resources to establish paramilitary volunteer forces such as the White Eagles.[10] As the SRS protested against Milošević's extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2001, Milošević urged his supporters to vote for the SRS rather than his own SPS.[5] The ICTY also indicted Šešelj, who has been on trial since 2007 following his surrender in 2003.[25] Deputy President Nikolić became the new de facto SRS leader and presented a more moderate face, with a new approach to international cooperation and a vision of Serbia acting as a "link between the West and the East."[26]

Nikolić leadership

Demonstration against Kosovo's independence in Belgrade, 2008.

During the 2003 parliamentary election, the SRS condemned cooperation with the war crimes tribunal, corruption scandals in government, poor living standards, and slightly moderated its formerly aggressive rhetoric.[23] While it won a clear plurality with 28% of the vote and 82 seats, the party was still viewed as a pariah by its democratic rivals and was thus left in opposition.[23] In the 2007 parliamentary election it won 29% of the vote and 81 seats. The SRS caucus in parliament elected Nikolić as its president and Aleksandar Vučić vice-president. Nikolić was later chosen as parliamentary speaker, supported by the DSS amidst a deadlock in coalition talks.[27] He stepped down just five days later, as the DS and DSS agreed to form a coalition government.[28]

At the National Assembly's first session on 14 February 2007, politicians voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari on the preliminary resolution of the status of Kosovo.[29] New elections were called in 2008 as the DS-DSS coalition collapsed due to EU recognition of Kosovo's declaration of independence.[30][31] In the 2008 parliamentary election the SRS again won 29% of the vote, and 78 seats, leading to the formation of a DS-SPS-led government coalition.[32][33] The party also won 17 seats in the Kosovska Mitrovica-based Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija consisting of Kosovan Serb municipalities who defied Kosovo's declaration of independence.[34]

Split of Nikolić and Vučić for SNS

Former de facto SRS leader Nikolić (left) and general secretary Vučić (right) at the founding of their new SNS party.

After disagreements with Šešelj, on 8 September 2008, Nikolić formed the new parliamentary group Napred Srbijo! ("Forward Serbia!") along with a number of other SRS members.[35] Šešelj responded with a letter on 11 September addressed to SRS members, in which he condemned the Nikolić group as "traitors" and "Western puppets", while calling on SRS members to remain loyal to the ideologies of "Serbian nationalism, anti-globalism, and Russophilia."[35] Nikolić and his group were officially expelled from the SRS the next day,[35][36] in response to which Nikolić announced that he would form his own party.[37] On 14 September, SRS general secretary Aleksandar Vučić also resigned from the SRS.[35][38] Nikolić and Vučić then launched the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) on 21 October of the same year.[39][40]

Following their departure, Dragan Todorović took over as the party's acting leader from Nikolić;[41][42] however the office of deputy chairman was officially abolished.[43] By April 2011 the SRS had about 7% of support in opinion polls, while the SNS coalition, which included the New Serbia party (NS), held about 40%.[44][45]

Ideology

The party's core ideology is based on Serbian nationalism, and it subscribes to the idea of Greater Serbia[46] which, according to Šešelj, is the raison d'être of the party.[47] The party also describes itself as anti-globalist,[35] and wants to abandon Serbian attempts to become a member of the European Union.[5][48] Instead, it aims to establish pan-Slavic "brotherly" ties with Russia, as well as ties with China, and to unite all Balkan Serbs into a single country.[5][48] In 2007 it advocated the use of force to block the independence of Kosovo.[5] The party remains loyal to the legacy of late President Milošević,[48] and would bring an end to searches for fugitives wanted by the ICTY such as Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić;[49] the party regards both to be "Serbian heroes".[50][51][52]

Under the leadership of Nikolić the party steered more towards the centre of Serbian politics, focusing on social issues such as unemployment and poverty rather than militant nationalism.[6] Nikolić and his supporters eventually broke away from the party in 2008 due to his support for the accession of Serbia to the European Union, which conflicted with the position of Šešelj's group[6] who thereafter maintained the party's hardline ideology.[35]

International relations

The SRS has maintained ties with Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, as well as France's Jean-Marie Le Pen and his National Front.[5][21][53][54] The party formerly counted Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the Ba'ath Party as one of its political and financial backers, as the parties found common cause in defiance of the United States.[5] Similar sentiment led the party to back Libya's Muammar Gaddafi following the 2011 military intervention in Libya by NATO. Serbia and Libya had maintained good relations since Gaddafi vocally opposed NATO intervention in Serbia in the 1990s, while he also backed Serbia's opposition to Kosovo's independence.[55]

Leadership

Electoral performance

The election record of the SRS has generally been strong, at times the party won well over 20% in parliamentary elections, rendering it the largest or second largest party in Serbia. In presidential elections, its historic contenders Šešelj and Nikolić have reached the presidential run-off twice each, although they have ultimately failed (narrowly) to win the office of president. Since Nikolić split off the SRS an founded a new party in 2008, the SRS has however seen a significant drop in opinion polls.

Parliamentary elections

National Assembly of Serbia
Election year # of total votes  % of overall vote # of seats won
1992 1,066,765 22.6% 73
1993 595,467 13.9% 39
1997 1,162,216 28.1% 82
2000 322,333 8.6% 23
2003 1,069,212 27.6% 82
2007 1,153,453 28.6% 81
2008 1,219,436 29.5% 78

Presidential elections

President of Serbia
Election year Candidate # of 1st round votes  % of 1st round vote # of 2nd round votes  % of 2nd round vote
1997*[56] Vojislav Šešelj 1,126,940 27.3% 1,733,859 49.1%
1997 Vojislav Šešelj 1,227,076 32.2% 1,383,868 37.6%
2002* Vojislav Šešelj 845,308 23.2%
2002* Vojislav Šešelj 1,063,296 36.1%
2003*[57] Tomislav Nikolić 1,166,896 47.9%
2004 Tomislav Nikolić 954,339 30.6% 1,434,068 45.4%
2008 Tomislav Nikolić 1,646,172 40.0% 2,197,155 48.0%
  • * Election declared invalid due to low turnout.

See also

References

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Bibliography

External links


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