How a Stupid Stunt Hurt Yugoslavian Opposition

  • Share
  • Read Later
Well, look who showed up at the rally after all. "It was a game," says TIME Central Europe reporter Dejan Anastasijevic of opposition leader Vuk Draskovic’s unexpected appearance at a teeming anti-Milosevic rally in Belgrade Thursday night. "He said he wasn’t coming, and then had the word passed among his supporters that he would appear if they chanted his name. They did, and there he was — he had been lurking somewhere nearby." The stunt didn’t go over too well in other parts of the crowd, where those who saw through it met Draskovic with boos. No wonder — not only was he recreating a bit of fakery perpetrated by Slobodan himself on that very spot 10 years earlier, Draskovic stood as a living reminder why the popular opposition to Milosevic, despite a rally turnout exceeding 50,000 people, still doesn’t stand a chance.

"The only thing encouraging about this rally was the turnout," says Anastasijevic. "But as long as the opposition is divided — and the lack of unity was depressingly evident at the rally — it will never be able to unseat Milosevic." Draskovic’s main rival, Zoran Djindjic of the Alliance for Change, is calling for a transitional government of experts that would then hold elections in a year or so. Draskovic (whose Serbian Renewal party still commands the most support in the opposition) angrily dismissed the idea as untenable and "dust in the eyes of the people." Draskovic only wants this his way — new elections immediately, that Djindjic’s party isn’t ready for yet. Anastasijevic doesn’t see that as helpful. "If there are new elections while Milosevic still controls the media, Milosevic will win and Draskovic — or anyone else — will lose," he says. "It’s that simple. But Draskovic still believes he can change the system from within, and he will run and run if it takes 20 years." At some point, Serbians aching for change might stop calling his name.