The opposition requires an authentic candidate for the present juncture, one who understands current problems and is ready to articulate the interests of citizens who are dissatisfied with the current government. That candidate must have the full support of the opposition parties that nominate him and public recognition, but he doesn’t have to be a politician, as was the case with Koštunica
The chronology of great political changes in Serbia is the story of presidential elections. The two biggest changes of the past 30 years came following presidential elections: Slobodan Milošević lost the election (Yugoslav presidential) to Vojislav Koštunica on 24th September, 2000, while Nikolić’s defeat of Tadić on 20th May 2012 represented the prelude to the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) coming to power. The 1990 presidential election established Milošević as the leader, while the June 2004 presidential election was a “launch pad” for the Democratic Party (DS) and its then leader, Boris Tadić.
It is politically logical that winning a presidential election is easier than winning parliamentary elections, because a good presidential candidate can act as a shock absorber for opposition shortcomings and divisions, symbolising opposition unity. However, today’s opposition often returns to 24th September 2000. “Koštunica 2.0” is not a realistic scenario for an opposition candidate for 2022. Such a profile of candidate is the product of a specific juncture, one that differs from today’s moment, and his success was not due to a solo effort or individual quality (which undoubtedly existed), but rather because he was backed by a serious political organisation (the Democratic Opposition of Serbia) and a coherent election strategy.
A good candidate in the presidential election will also encourage a good result in Belgrade, but the opposite also applies: a bad choice of a presidential candidate will reduce the chances of success in Belgrade
The opposition needs an authentic candidate for the present moment, one who understands current problems and is ready to articulate the interests of citizens who are dissatisfied with the current government. That candidate must have the full support of the opposition that nominates him and public recognition, although he doesn’t necessarily have to be a politician, as was the case with Koštunica. That candidate must be autonomous, with his own political capital and integrity. If a good result is planned, that candidate must be the “star” of the upcoming campaign, because the next elections – regardless of the massive significance of the parliamentary and Belgrade elections – will be held in the atmosphere of a presidential election: all other elections will be overshadowed by voting for the president.
If the goal is to achieve a positive result in the presidential elections, all organisations standing behind the presidential candidate must work for him, to adjust the campaign to that candidate, to buy tickets for the back row if that’s required. It would be a mistake for the opposition to ignore the presidential election due to projections of a good result in Belgrade. A good candidate in the presidential election will also encourage a good result in Belgrade, but the opposite also applies: a bad choice of a presidential candidate will reduce the chances of success in Belgrade.
Other details – character traits, messages, political tactics – can be found in public opinion polls. The opposition still has enough time to address them and readily await the start of the campaign.