Toward a second round in the presidential
Analysis of the vote-What will happen?

By Michel Collon

Belgrade-Sept. 27. 2000, Wednesday morning, 10 : The war of numbers concerning the election results has just ended.

At 1 p.m. yesterday (Sept. 26), I took part in a news conference organized by the opposition coalition, DOS. They announced "victory": 54.6 percent for Kostunica
and 35.1 percent for Milosevic.

A question intrigued me at that moment. DOS insisted its results were based on 97.5 percent of the voting places, but this excluded Kosovo and Montenegro. Now,
in these two cases, as I had noted, the voting was overwhelmingly in favor of Milosevic. I presumed then that if they omitted them, it was because they would then
descend below the 50 percent barrier.

Indeed. At 6 p.m., the Central Election Commission announced the definitive results. First, the SPS-YUL coalition won the parliamentary elections, its majority large
enough to permit it to constitute on its own the new Yugoslav government. It is true that the Montenegrin authorities gave them a "gift" by abstaining from voting,
which offered all the votes of that republic to the outgoing coalition. This gift seemed to have been decisive.

As for the presidential voting, the decisive numbers are: 48.2 percent for Kostunica, 40.2 percent for Milosevic, 5.1 percent for the radical (right-wing Serb
nationalist) Nikolic, 2.5 percent for Mihailovic (representing the right-winger Draskovic). Milosevic just managed to save himself for the second round.

Subsequently, Kostunica declared he refused to participate in this second roung (which he had apparently good chances of winning), while accusing those in power
of fraud. However, these accusations of fraud could hardly stand up, as you can see in reading the conclusions of the international observers (which you can read in
the others documents that we have transmitted from Belgrade). If fraud is going to be discussed, it is necessary to start by noting the intimidation the Montenegrin
government practiced in order to stop voting, and that of KFOR in Kosovo.

What conclusions can be drawn from these results? Why did the people vote this way?

Vote analysis

As we have already explained, the trend favoring Kostunica can be explained by: 1. Weariness from the sanctions imposed from West Europe and the U.S. and the
difficult daily life. 2. But also discontent regarding the authorities in office.

Indeed, the complaints from the population are hardly the same as those made in the West against Milosevic. A young Belgrader of the YUL tendency, that is, from
the far left, told me yesterday that he did not vote "because some of my friends died in Croatia and in Bosnia, and Milosevic did not fight to the finish for these
republics and he signed a bad agreement with the Americans in Dayton in 1995."

They also criticize Milosevic for having "accepted a defeat in the last war, while the population and the army could have continued the war." In addition, the
reproached him for having presented this defeat as a victory. Wooden language is not always appreciated when one unceasingly claims that everything is going or will
be going well.

One can see that the voters' feelings can be complex. And, in addition, among those who voted for Kostunica, there are many who are absolutely against NATO.
That adds up to a clear majority of the country who are for resistance to NATO-and obliges the opposition to make tactical twists and turns.

And tomorrow?

What will happen here? The atmosphere is extremely tense. People are constantly in discussion and fearful of incidents.

Why did Kostunica say that he will refuse to participate in the run-off? He would appear to have good chances to win the second round: an 8 percent lead, that's a
lot, and he undoubtedly has a high potential vote among those who abstained the first round. And the U.S. could instruct the Montenegrin government and the
Albanians to no longer abstain this round.

As for the small parties eliminated in the first round, Kostunica would seem to be able to count on the 2.5 percent from Draskovic's candidate. Milosevic should get
the votes of the radical, since those Serb nationalists who refuse to vote for a left candidate had already left to vote for Kostunica during the first round.

But certain people here think that Kostunica-and this may seem strange-might not be able to hold on to all his votes. Why? Because many people voted for him in
order to give a warning to the group in power. But faced with the imminence of a big turn (and of the presence of the West, which would transform Serbia into a sort
of colony, as it did to Macedonia), a part of these voters would revert to a "patriotic" vote. It is possible. A second round could hold many surprises and that would
explain why the West doesn't want it.

I believe the principle reason is that the opposition has lost the parliamentary elections, the most important in fact, because they permit the SPP-YUL coalition to
form and manage the government. In the past the Yugoslav president had only symbolic functions, and it could revert to this situation if Kostunica is named president.
Now the U.S. and the EU don't just want to get rid of Milosevic but above all, they want to remove all resistance to the multinational corporations and to NATO.

Considering this, the opposition is now trying to step up the pressure against the government and to see up to what extent the U.S. and its allies are currently ready to intervene. It is also trying to sharpen the climate of the election. To accomplish this, "incidents" [provocations?] in Belgrade are "necessary."

Seeing this, one begins to understand why those in power seem to have drawn out the events. To reduce the tension built up for weeks by Washington. Two weeks
ago, one could learn from an opposition Serb newspaper that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had called for a new bombing campaign against

Was this only an attempt at intimidation or the first phase of a well-organized escalation with an accompanying campaign to prepare public opinion? Earlier wars
showed the need to stay vigilant when faced with these escalations.

Create confrontations in Belgrade, and then come "to save democracy" or even to provoke incidents by the Montenegrin separatists and to deploy troops "to stop a
Serb invasion" or even both pretexts together, those are undoubtedly the scenarios envisaged by U.S. strategists to put an end to Yugoslav resistance.

Whatever it will be, the best means to stop the U.S. and its allies to strike again is to carry out-and that goes for each of us-our task of counter-information
[counter-propaganda?] in order to uncover the media's lies. Under this condition, it will be possible to let the Yugoslavs decide for themselves their fate. Without
threats and external pressure.

Anti-Imperialist League --

posted 6 October 2000


International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
phone: 212 633-6646
fax: 212 633-2889