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Yugo Governing Coalition Wins Parliament, Controls Government
By Max Sinclair (9-30-2000)
New York City; September 27th - I've been watching all the mud slinging going on in the Yugoslav Presidential contest with some amusement. Because the real fight was for control of the Yugoslav Parliament. Like many European countries, Yugoslavia has a Parliamentary system with two national leaders. First there is a ceremonial President (or King in the case of Britain) with no real power. Second there is a Prime Minister chosen by Parliament.
The real question in the Yugoslav election was always whether the opposition could muster the votes to gain a Parliamentary majority. But as a result of last week's election there is no chance that they can govern, not even as part of a coalition. For the first time, Milosevic's Party and its allies have won an absolute majority of seats in both the upper and lower houses of Parliament.
The results of the Presidential vote are being subjected to much (ill informed) debate. But nobody contests the Parliamentary results.
While the Kostunica-Milosevic fight garnered the headlines as a made-for- TV parable of good versus evil, the hard reality of parliamentary democracy means getting one's people elected into both upper and lower houses. Robin Cook of all people should understand this. After all, he is part of a currently beleaguered British government which received less than 40% of the popular vote, but thanks to massive gerrymandering won more than 60% of the parliamentary seats bringing Tony Blair to power.
In Yugoslavia, prior to this latest election, the Government had only 64 seats out of 138 in the lower house. Now they have added 8 in the lower house to gain a 3 vote majority: 72 out of 138 seats.
Up until now the Government had to forge a coalition with one of the minor parties if it wanted to pass a law. With its new majority in the lower house, the Government no longer has to rely on a shaky coalition to pass much-needed legislation.
The Government scored a bigger victory in the Yugoslav senate race, the upper house. They won 7 out of 20 senate seats in Serbia and 19 of 20 senate seats in Montenegro. The Opposition won just 10 of 40 senate seats. The Government is just short of a 2/3 majority.
Simply put, while Kostunica's Opposition party was trying to capture the ceremonial Presidency, Milosevics Governing party won a tremendous victory by gaining a majority in both the upper and lower houses of Parliament. It will be interesting to see whether Robin Cook, Madeline Albright, and the rest of the Overseers-of-the- Democratic-Process-in-Somebody-Else's-Country will accept these results.
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