Former President of Serbia leaves Democratic Party

Former President of Serbia Boris Tadic announced on January 30 that he will resign as honorary president of the Democratic Party (DS) and that he will leave the party entirely, which is currently part of the opposition. Tadic said he decided to leave because of disagreements with the direction in which the Democrats were heading under the new leadership. "I decided to leave the party and resign as honorary president, because people who gave the DS a label as a corrupt and scandal-stained party are now coming back to the political bloc around the DS," Tadic said, referring to the Democrats’ potential coalition with the New Party (Nova Stranka) led by Zoran Zivkovic, a former member of the DS.

Negotiations with the New Party
The resignation comes a day after Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic called early parliamentary elections for March 16, together with local elections in Belgrade. In the elections, the now ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is expected to gather strong support among voters by taking the post of Prime Minister from their Socialist (SPS) coalition partners. The opposition Democrats, whose ratings have fallen since losing the 2012 general elections, are trying to ally with other opposition parties in order to maximise their result. The decision of Tadic to leave DS could further split the vote on the center-left and result in some (old) members of DS joining a potential new coalition around Tadic. Leader of another left-wing party, League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), Nenad Canak, got the mandate from his party to explore a possible coalition with Tadic.

Tadic told reporters he had made the decision to leave the DS because of the negotiations between the Democrats and the New Party of Zivkovic. The 53-year-old leader of the New Party served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2004 when, Tadic said, the Serbian government became linked with scandals and shady businessmen. Tadic explained that he had rejected to be part of the DS election headquarters because he could not take responsibility for the current political course.

Speculations about a ‘Democratic Front’
Tadić has not confirmed that he intended to set up a new party and said instead that he would make a decision about participating in the upcoming elections soon. He also denied speculation in the media that he would form a ‘Democratic Front,’ noting that at this point he "does not know what he will do next in his political career."

Tadic served as Serbian President from 2004-2008 and again from 2008-2012. He was widely blamed for the party's defeat in 2012, which occurred, some said, because he concentrated too much power in his own hands. In November 2012, Dragan Djilas took over the party leadership from Tadic. The Democratic Party did not manage to transform itself into a strong opposition party and has since the elections suffered from internal struggles. A recent poll, conducted by the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy, showed most people intend to vote for the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in March. About 42 per cent of voters said they planned to vote for the Progressives, former radicals (Serbian Radical Party), while the Democratic Party can only count on about 11 per cent of voters.

Sources: B92, B92 [2], Balkan Insight, Tanjug

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