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Although the conventional wisdom, and in fact the polls, seemed to suggest that the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party would be victorious, they have been defeated by a rather substantial margin. Although they have not won enough seats to claim a majority on their own, it is still very good news for the global progressive community.

This is my first diary, and I know that candidate diaries are all the rage these days, but I feel that this is an extremely important turn of events.

In late January, Serbia held a Presidential election in which Boris Tadic, the leader of the Democratic Party, triumphed in a very close race which he ended up winning by just over two percent. What changed between then and now that would so drastically change the expectations? Kosovo declared independence. This inflamed Serbian nationalism and it was thought that this would be sufficient for a large victory for the ultranationalist forces. Guess the establishment didn't put enough faith in the Serbian people.

The Serbian Radical Party favours a closer relationship with Russia, and rejects attempting to join the European Union. They are also decidedly more conservative in social policy, and liberal (laissez-faire) in economic policy. In contrast, the Democratic Party favours accession to the EU, progressive social policy, and believes in social democratic economic principles.

It is still possible that the Democratic Party does not form the government, however. As I said earlier, they did not gain a majority, but rather a plurality. There are three opposition parties, and they would all have to band together for a coalition government to succeed. Nonetheless, this was basically the best we could hope for.

Now, there is something interesting going on in Europe. This is the third victory in a row for progressives in Eastern Europe; the previous two were in the Ukraine and Poland. The region seems to be moving away from its historic partner, Russia, and moving closer to the west. However, this serves as quite a large contrast to the political situation in the rest of Europe. Angela Merkel is the Christian Democratic leader of Germany and is very popular. Labour in England seems poised for a defeat by the hands of the Conservatives. Fascist wannabe Silvio Berlusconi triumphed in Italy. Sarkozy rules France, although he's extremely unpopular now. Unfortunately for the French, they have to wait a long time to get rid of him. Spain seems to be the exception, as the Socialists rule there.

Originally posted to Aviram on Sun May 11, 2008 at 04:07 PM PDT.

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