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Serbian government dissolves

March 10, 2008

Ellie Tzortzi of Reuters:

The coalition government of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica was formally dissolved on Monday, opening the way for an early parliamentary election.

The decision was taken at a brief cabinet session following Kostunica’s announcement on Saturday that the government could not continue in office owing to deep disunity over defending Kosovo versus pursuing a place in the European Union.

“The government did not have a united and common policy any more,” a statement said, “and this kept it from performing its basic constitutional function, to define and lead Serbia’s politics.”

The key question is whether Kosovo will usher in a less EU-friendly and more nationalist government.

President Boris Tadic must now disband parliament and set a date for the election, probably on May 11. It will be the most important election since voters ended the era of the late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.

The vote will be a close race between the Democrats and the nationalist Radicals, the strongest party.

Kostunica, whose party lies a distant third, quit after tacitly accusing his coalition partners, the Democrats and the G17 Plus party, of giving up on Kosovo, the 90-percent Albanian province which seceded last month with Western backing.

I don’t know enough about Serbian politics to make any predictions, but it strikes me that radicalization remains a strong possibility. One could argue that the benefits of an independent Kosovo outweigh a more nationalist Serbia. After all, the Serbs remain pretty hemmed in and international forces remain in Kosovo. Any thoughts from our better-informed readers?

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.