If they unite, Serbia’s opposition parties stand a chance of winning in the next spring’s Belgrade elections, an opinion poll has suggested on Tuesday.
A similar situation was in 1996 when the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) made up of 18 parties and movements won city and local elections across the country, initiating the fall of the 10-year rule of the Socialist Pary od Serbia (SNS).
The survey, conducted by the Investigative and Publishing Demostat Centre, covered 1.200 Belgrade residents by early October.
The poll showed that 31 percent of the voters in the capital would support the ruling coalition of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and SPS.
The same percentage of the polled would vote for the opposition, the Centre told reporters.
Srecko Mihailovic of the Demostat, said that 17 percent of the polled were undecided or refused to say who would they vote for; 21 percent said there was no party or coalition which could solve problems in Belgrade.
Mihailovic said the poll showed the most opposition voters would support the group made of the Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP), the Democratic Party (DS), the People’s Party and the Free Citizens’ Movement with 14 percent of the votes.
‘Don’t Let Belgrade Drown’ and a couple of ecological activists’ movements would get seven percent.
Belgrade elections have proved crucial in the gradual collapse of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
In 1996, his SPS lost power in the capital and all other major towns to finally be ousted in 2000.
Milosevic refused to concede the defeat, and the opposition and its supporters launched a months-long protest.
Eventually, after the OSCE intervention, in February 1997, the results were acknowledged, and the opposition took local power in almost all significant places in Serbia.
At the time, media freedom was by large greater than nowadays. A network of local media carried news programmes made by the independent outlets based in Belgrade, and people had been well informed.
Currently, the situation with media is quite different. Most of the local outlets and leading electronic and print media are under the control of people loyal to the regime, and the flow of independent information is minimal.
Social media and Youtube channels partially bridge the gap, but not a majority of Serbia’s voters use the Internet.