Will shortages be followed by the inflation of fake warriors for the green future of Serbia? Many political leaders are racing to present themselves as environmentalists, but the green suit doesn’t suit everyone. The upcoming elections in Belgrade could be the first test verifying the credibility of the options on offer.
The topic of environmental protection is undergoing a genuine renaissance in Serbia today, and it is very good that this has finally happened. The development of technology (primarily social networks and air-quality monitoring apps) has led to the hard work of civil society organisations aimed at highlighting the decades-long negligence that exists in this area finally bearing fruit, such that the public in Serbia is now much better informed about the environmental situation. This fact, along with the mobilisation of citizens at the local level with the aim of fighting the construction of mini hydropower plants, has led to the formation of a genuine, modern ecological movement in Serbia.
A new political arena has opened, while all polls show that this issue is undoubtedly important to citizens, which is also why we see all political actors racing to express their stance and take a position. But this issue is still very new in our country, so it will be necessary for more time to pass before leaders distinguish themselves. In the meantime, there is the risk of a kind of inflation of ecological parties, and a possible populist approach to the entire issue.
When it comes to the formation of a green party in Serbia, I think we are a long way from having a serious party that is at the level of, for instance, what the Greens represent in Germany. But certain parties and movements that could be characterised as green are already operating in our country.
Fortunately for the citizens of Serbia, the environmental protection field is such that it is difficult to hide the real results of work, while at the same time this area is less politicised than all others, which means that it is harder (though not impossible) to “spin” core problems
The Ne davimo Beograd [Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own] movement has had the characteristics of a modern green-left party since it was founded, while Nebojša Zelenović’s Together for Serbia party has made a clear shift towards “green” topics, while new political figures are also emerging, such as environmental activist Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta. Furthermore, some of the largest opposition parties in the country presented their green platforms during the previous period.
Similarly, the takeover of the departments of energy and environmental protection, as well as media appearances, clearly indicate that the ruling party has also recognised the importance of this topic.
Fortunately for the citizens of Serbia, the environmental protection field is such that it is difficult to hide the real results of work, while at the same time this area is less politicised than all others, which means that it is harder (though not impossible) to create “spin” that diverts attention away from important things and the causes of problems. All of this should lead to genuine competition, which could really result in improving the quality of the environment in Serbia.
I believe that the potential exists for green parties in Serbia, not only because of the increased interest on the home front, but also because of the increasingly favourable situation on the international front, where the fight against climate change is becoming an extremely important issue.
However, although their development path could be faster compared to what we’ve seen in other countries, it is still essential for a certain period of time to pass in order for these ideas to mature. The campaign and results of the elections in Belgrade could provide a good indicator of how the situation could develop further, and I expect be the issues of pollution and environmental protection to be among the three main topics of the campaign.