You’d think that after ten years of special reports, live coverage, and those ‘Only on CNN’ news conferences that weren’t really exclusive to CNN, I would get used to the bullshit journalists keep throwing around all over the place. But that’s not really the case, because every time a no-name reporter wanting to put a few extra seconds into his (or, more often, her) report, they mention the ‘tension-filled streets of Belgrade’ or other one hundred per cent pure unrefined shite. Cue an urge to hit that particular person’s head with a heavy object, most preferably a TV set, a couple of times.
Not that I think anybody really watches those reports, or cares about what they heard if they do see them. But if they are so wrong about what things are like here (and they’re hot, but that’s only because of the sun), then how can I be sure that anything that’s been said, be it about the new government of Fiji, the Middle East peace talks, or the porn industry in Budapest, is actually true? Some of it is true, of course, and that makes it only worse. Trying to separate the rights from the wrongs in 40 degrees centigrade isn’t really good for your brain.
That’s why this summer I’m hibernating. One of Serbia’s princes is dead? He was well over 70, so it was about time. Draskovic has split from the rest of the opposition? No surprise there, he was always a wanker. Slobba says there’ll be local, federal and presidential elections on September 24rd.
Well, to tell you the truth, I did get excited about that one.
For about 14 seconds, then a fly got too close to my jaffa cake and in the time it took me to help that fly get to the great waste dump of beyond, I forgot all about that thing that’s supposed to be held in September… err… ah, yes, the elections. That doesn’t mean the elections themselves won’t be exciting. Far from it.
The Socialist party is stepping up its campaign, and so are the opposition parties in Serbia, but a very large part of Yugoslavia, one whole republic to be precise, doesn’t want to co-operate. You could say it’s for a very good, and a rather complicated reason that, when overly simplified, goes something like: The government of Montenegro doesn’t recognise the federal government of Yugoslavia because the prime minister, who is also the leader of Montenegro’s biggest opposition party and a part time Milosevic lackey, got the job with the help of Slobba’s unconstitutional, but nevertheless legal, decisions. And it’s easy to have decisions like that when there are three separate sets of laws – a federal one and two for each of the republics, neither of which is in-line with the constitution – that the president can choose from on his own whim.
But this is one of those rare moments when it’s actually better to do what Slobba says should be done – hold the elections. Whether Slobba wants you to do it is a totally different thing, because Montenegro refusing to abide would be a perfect opportunity for yet another Balkan crisis that seems to extend Milosevic’s reign by a couple of years.
Let’s say the elections are held, with Montenegro participating. In a modern dictatorship there are only two possible outcomes of an election, no matter how many of them (federal, local, presidential…) are actually held – either it’s the dictator who wins or the opposition. And if indeed it is the opposition that takes the victory, the government more often than not annuls the election results.
And that’s when things start to get interesting. Actually, they’d get interesting even if it’s the government who wins – either way, the elections are then proclaimed unfair and fraudulent by the opposition. Big protests arise, the government is scared shitless, and the all-mighty international community, my favourite group of people, gets to decide the fate of all involved, directly or not.
When something like that happened four years ago, albeit in a smaller scale, even my great grandmother could have made a better decision that the IC – and she’s dead. They had let Milosevic walk away unscathed from altering the results of the local elections, which were a landslide victory for the opposition.
But back then Slobba was, in their minds at least, ‘the guarantee of stability in the region’, and now he is anything but. Some of the more appropriate reactions from the IC this time would be to a) drop the war crimes charges and give Slobba a piece of land in Siberia, b) pull out another NATO paper tiger stunt and pray to God it’ll work better than with Kosovo, or c) keep quiet and let things go their natural Romania style course.
Only the signs coming out of Montenegro aren’t really encouraging. Too many hours watching three-letter acronyms on satellite made them think Milosevic is the only person who could win an election in Serbia. The announcement from Vuk Draskovic that he and his party will be boycotting the elections because of unfair election laws, only encouraged that.
Elections or no elections, I’m just glad that with being unable to drive or vote also comes the Serbian equivalent of a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If, or better, when the need arises for everybody to serve their country i the best possible way, ‘he best possible way’ for me won’t be prematurely going to the Yugoslav army. And unless September 24rd, 2000 is in two years, it looks like I just might be out of the woods forever.