Issue No.147 - November 1, 1999
1.Ukraine: KUCHMA'S SURE BET
By Ivan Lozowy
2.FRY/Montenegro: CLOSING TIME IN THE "BALKANS TAVERN"
By Slobodan Rackovic
3.Macedonia: TIRED OF POLITICS ?
By Nebojsa Jakonov
4.Slovakia: BAD LEGISLATURE LEADS TO BANKRUPTCY
By Gabriela Bridzikova
Ukraine: KUCHMA'S SURE BET
By Ivan Lozowy
The final results were announced a full four days after the first round of Ukraine's parliamentary elections, but by then they came as no surprise. Beginning during the early hours of the morning following election day, the Central Election Commission and an alternative "parallel counting" project run by a special committee of parliament regularly announced preliminary results.
The hands down winner is the incumbent, Leonid Kuchma, who won 36 percent of the vote. Next came the Chairman of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Petro Symonenko, with 22 percent, followed by Socialist Party Chairman Oleksandr Moroz and Progressive Socialist Party Chairman Natalia Vitrenko each with 11 percent. The only democratic candidate to break the two percent barrier was Yuriy Kostenko. Several last minute factors influenced the vote.
In particular, the "Kaniv Four" coalition, comprised of Moroz, Marchuk, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko and Cherkasy mayor Oleksandr Oliynyk, was unable to come to agreement over a single candidate. Although composed of three powerful players, the coalition was seen as disunited and weak, equaling much less than the sum of its parts. As election day approached, support for the "Kaniv Four" seemed to evaporate. On the right side of the political spectrum, the first round results have left a shambles. Green Party leader Vitaly Kononov polled a mere 0.29 percent, far less than the 5.5 percent his party had won only a year earlier.
As correctly predicted by this author, Rukh leader Yuriy Kostenko gained significantly more than his rival Hennady Udovenko, who polled just 1.2 percent. Kostenko won almost 2 and a half percent, which translates into a total of over half a million votes. Considering his relative obscurity only two months ago and the fact that it was only Udovenko who was officially recognized by Kuchma-s Administration as representing Rukh, this constitutes an important gain for this young politician. Also, as predicted, former Justice Minister Vasyl Onopenko gained just under one half of one percent of the vote. All in all, the election results proved the tenuous hold the right and center-right parties have over their electorate. To be fair, Yevhen Marchuk had played no small part in this respect, having worked diligently at gathering as much as possible of the vote on the right and finishing with 8 percent. The first round results were particularly disappointing for Moroz.
He had gained 13 percent of the vote in the presidential race in 1994, after which he served as parliamentary speaker for four years and became one of the best known political figures in the country. Viewed as a moderate leftist, Moroz had consistently polled as the candidate most likely to defeat Kuchma in a second round. He has now thrown his support behind Symonenko. For her part, the fiery Natalia Vitrenko (less fiery these days) has maintained publicly that she is ready to joint Symonenko-s team if promised the post of Prime Minister. Figurehead for the collective farm nomenklatura Oleksandr Tkachenko had withdrawn his candidacy prior to the first round and thrown his support behind Symonenko. In the second round, scheduled for November 14, Kuchma seems a sure bet. He gained more than was generally expected in the first round and has conducted talks with Marchuk, promising the latter the post of Chairman of the powerful National Security Council, essentially the closest agency working directly with the president and meddling in every aspect of government.
Taken together with Moroz and Vitrenko, Symonenko's total reaches over
44 percent. Kuchma plus Marchuk equals 44 percent as well. Here the edge
must be given to Kuchma, since Symonenko, an orthodox communist hard-liner,
is not well received by leftists closer to the center, many of whom voted
for Moroz in particular. In summary, the scenario prepared by Leonid Kuchma
and his team was successfully realized. Now Kuchma faces Symonenko in a
second round as the defender of Ukraine against the "red threat." Whether
Ukrainian voters are as sure that the threat comes from the left and not
from Kuchma himself remains to be seen.
FRY/Montenegro: CLOSING TIME IN THE "BALKANS TAVERN"
By Slobodan Rackovic
Since new Law on Citizenship and decision to introduce separate currency in next few days (Yugoslav dinar was already looked down on here),even the strongest sceptics started to believe that the government in Podgorica is steadily, but never falteringly, separating Montenegro from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At the end of last week, Montenegrin Parliament passed Law on Montenegrin citizenship , the draft of which has been going through parliamentary procedure since the summer of 1997.
A couple of days ago, the government of this Yugoslav republic introduced two-currency monetary system (Yugoslav dinar and German mark-DEM) on its territory. According to local and western political analysts, the Montenegrin government made two giant leaps toward separation of the tiny, old state from Milosevic's Yugoslavia in which Montenegro was hardly in better position than in the first, Karadjordjevic's one. If we add that in a short while the Republic will get its own currency, called Montenegrin mark (Steve Henke, American monetary advisor of president Mile Djukanovic, predicts it will happen in the next 30 to 90 days), than it is more than obvious that Montenegrin regime uses "step by step" tactics to achieve more and more attributes of independent state.
Montenegro took over full control of foreign politics and trade, customs and taxes. Also, not a dinar is going to the federal budget, so it is clear that the only connection between the two former "two eyes in one head" is the defence system! However, Montenegrins don't think of the Yugoslav army as their own lately (they even desert it on a massive scale) so even that connection between the two federal units became only an invisible and shaky thread, bound to be cut at any moment. The sole fact that it took more than two years for Montenegrin Parliament to pass Law on Montenegrin citizenship speaks volumes about sensitivity of this issue which will estrange Montenegro and Serbia. Serbian citizens will hardly have more rights than citizens of the neighbouring Croatia even if some kind of unity between Serbia and Montenegro were to be maintained (in best case it would be a kind of the most loose confederation or the Union of independent countries)! Citizenship requisites will be the same for Serbs as well as Croats. Serbs will be unable to vote in Montenegro as they used to. One can even get impression that Montenegro brought in this Law in order to protect themselves from mass invasion of Serbs who are less and less motivated to live and earn under Milosevic's supreme autocratic regime.
During this spring's clash between NATO and FRY and after, 50,000-70,000 people escaped from Serbia into Montenegro in an attempt to make Montenegro their temporary or permanent home. That is not only radically changing demographic and political structure, but is also affecting living and working conditions of the domicile population for worse. It is often the case that Montenegrins are discriminated party compared to immigrants, especially in getting jobs. It is only natural that Montenegrin government introduced protective mechanisms for its citizens like already mentioned Law on Citizenship which is, by the way, usual even in the most democrat ic societies. We must, however, admit that Montenegrin Law on Citizenship is very restrictive. Many even compare it to the Slovenian. The easiest way to obtain Montenegrin citizenship is if the petitioner is born in Montenegro or if his parents are Montenegrin citizens.
One can also get citizenship on the basis of international contracts and if the petitioner lives on Montenegrin territory for at least ten years. Also, citizenship can be obtained by marrying a Montenegro citizen, but only if spending a minimum of five years in Montenegro. Yet, Citizenship Law brings some substantial changes and for the first time gives a priority to Montenegrin rather than Yugoslav citizenship. Before it was defined that Montenegrin citizenship was started and stopped with Yugoslav citizenship which was given or taken away in the federal Ministry of Interior Affairs in a years-lasting procedure. So Montenegro, step by step, gets back elements of state given to the federal system and abused by official Belgrade, thus turning FR Yugoslavia into expanded Serbia. The authorities and people of Montenegro obviously don't want such a relationship anymore and are resolved to have their thousand-year old state. They face heavy obstacles inside and abroad.
While messages of organising "bloody civil war in case of separation" come from Belgrade, together with introduction of special regime towards Montenegrins living in Serbia (yellow badges as armbands) and moving Sandzak Moslems into Montenegro - the world community demands of president Milo Djukanovic to delay announced moves to establish independence. That is why introduction of Montenegrin currency was postponed as well as public referendum for independence of Montenegro, but these cessions of regime in Podgorica are only temporary and will not endanger long-term Montenegrin policy of separate state. That is illustrated by more and more benign relationship of authorities and Montenegrin independent institutions (Duklja's Academy of Science and Arts, Montenegrin Orthodox Church, Society of Independent Writers, etc.) as well as by a total fiasco of last-week's talks of Montenegrin and Serbian delegations.
The party in "Balkans tavern" (term used by great Croatian author Miroslav
Krleza to describe Tito's Yugoslavia) is coming to an end. Serbia and Montenegro
are the only drunken guests left at the table and they try to avoid paying
for the ten-year's debt, ordering new rounds of drinks at the same time.
To pay and leave the tavern or get into debts even more - is a Hamlet question.
Montenegro authorities decided to leave tavern and free itself of its own
vice. In any case, it is cheaper than prolonging the stay. More so, since
the colleague at the coffee table is becoming more and more drunken and
Last Sunday Macedonian voters were deciding on who will succeed their president Kiro Gligorov and rule the country during next five years. Already the second day after the elections, one could say that many obscurities of the otherwise rather indefinite election campaign governing most of the public life in the country during October were cleared.
First, presidential candidate of the opposition Macedonian Socialdemocrat Alliance and former president of Macedonian Parliament (Sobranje) Tito Petkovski, is in big advantage after the first voting cycle. According to last, still unofficial results (after counting 95 per cent of the votes) he got 32 per cent of all the voters that cast the ballot. He has 120 000 votes more than his main competitor Boris Trajkovski, presidential candidate of the ruling VMRO - Democrat party of the Macedonian National Unity thus leading by 12 per cent. Trajkovski is younger and was, until last year, rather unknown politician currently holding office of the Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs.
From other six pretenders for the chair of 82-year old Gligorov who, having served two presidential mandates, politically retires following Macedonian constitution, the most interesting is the result of Vasil Tupurkovski, a politician who, despite his middle years (born in 1951), belongs to a rather solitary group of Macedonian politicians with a rich experience from ex-Yugoslavia. Tupurkovski got rather high score of 145,000 votes and is positioned third, which means that he didn't qualify for the second cycle to be held in two weeks' time. . Some think his result means complete defeat which could cost him his political career, while others say it's still a success, if not for him personally than at least for his party. To be more exact, Tupurkovski - now leader of the centrist Democratic Alternative, one of the parties composing ruling coalition of three - entered campaign with a burden of the man sotonized by opposition SDP, a party which used partisan and very influential media to present him as a liar and political opportunist. He also received a heavy blow from VMRO, his government partner, whose leadership rejected him as a presidential candidate of the ruling coalition.
Such starting position - more so because his Democratic Alternative is a small party (some even say it's more of a personal Tupurkovski's "appendix" than a real party) - caused many analysts to say that these presidential elections were the last, crucial battle for maintaining his still high political ranking in Macedonia. Results of Stojan Andov, another "old" candidate, fall in lime with Tupurkovski's. After rich political career in federal forums of ex-Yugoslavia, he managed to survive 1991 downfall and even became president of independent Macedonia Parliament as Markovic's reformer. However, it seems that his 100,000 votes - although Andov got them after almost private election campaign, without support of the Liberal-Democratic Party which nominated him as its presidential candidate - lack the weight of those votes which went into Tupurkovski. Many predict this result will mean not only the end of Andov's political career, but also the end of liberal-democrat political element in Macedonia. For non-Macedonian readers, one of the more interesting aspects of the presidential elections, also present in all polls, is the issue of political attitude towards national minorities, chiefly Albanians who form a numerous minority group.
We could say that issue was even more relevant this time due to events in Kosovo which had a tremendous impact in Macedonia, and, it seems, will continue to have it. Two Albanian presidential candidates were Muarem Nexipi, nominated by the Democrat Party of Albanians (third member of the ruling coalition) and Muhamed Halili from the Party of Democratic Prosperity. Albanians gave more votes to Nexipi because, as some say, DPA was more aggressive and, judging by results, more efficient in representing Albanians than PDP which formed a former ruling coalition with socialdemocrats. PDP favoured "cabinet discussions" to support Albanian rights in Macedonia, avoiding media exposure, as opposed to present coalition which proclaimed easing of inter-ethnical tensions one of its basic principles. One of the important issues of the presidential campaign was will Macedonian scene become bi-polarized with a left (SDSM) and a right (VMRO) party and smaller power of the political centre which came as yes with victories of Petkovski and Trajkovski. Another element were attempts of some of the participants in the presidential race to play on national interests and emotions. Of course, it is a question of political sensibility of an analyst in how to evaluate this trend which slightly raises nationalist atmosphere dominant in Macedonian politics at the beginning of the 90s. I would like to humbly suggest that, although political speeches of presidential candidates lit some small nationalist torches, such policy, at least for now, doesn't count much since, among else, political constellation is established in a slightly unnatural manner.
Nationalist VMRO, at least declaratively, favours the concept of "multicultural Macedonia" thus leaving left SDSM to, perhaps, flirt with nationalism. Of course, when we take into account characteristic "non-substantiality" of the political elite in all transitional countries which can never easily be explained, the above remark must be heavily supported. In the case of last weeks' presidential elections in Macedonia, we said that the crucial argument is the fact that the voters' response (63 per cent) was almost the same as in the USA, which means Macedonians got tired of politics and are starting to understand one of the basic principles of democracy - politics is politics, and life is more important.
Slovakia : BAD LEGISLATURE LEADS TO BANKRUPTCY
By Gabriela Bridzikova
Like in many former comunist countries when the economy is getting worse, a wave of company crashes occurs. In Slovakia we can name many examples of bancrupcy and insolvency in every department, but not only because of economical troubles but also because of speculation and transposing of capital into new mother companies.
The case of Pratex company , a textil fabric, from the Middle Slovakia, from which aproximately 700 employees were sucked and the money from the old company were transfered into 3 other companies is a good example, when the transformation of economy gives possibility to speculative business and the "small man" is the victim of these speculations. Because there was no money in the "old" factory - it was all transferred into the 3 new fabrics- the employees did not get their salaries. But the owners took out also the money intended for employers salaries- from the 3 new factories, where there were no employees. The case caused broad called a broad public attention when a couple of former employees decided to hold a hunger strike to get back their salaries and compensation starting March 1999 and compensation and than blamed the main owner of Pratex, where 1160 workers worked in poor conditions.
The company owes them approx. 800 000 Slovak crowns in salaries and 11.5 millions crowns in compensation. The hunger strike incited many emotions, the people asked the government to solve the problem caused by their employer. Many politicians, including also the president and prime minister assured people taht they would to do something. They can understand them but can not help every company plunged into insolvency. After their health worsened employees cancelled their protest. According to the latest information the case will be solved by the court and people have to ask for money individualy by declaring bancrupcy. The case also clamed the first victim .
A vicepresident of Trade Unions of textil industry Otto Kremmer, who
tried to solve the problem of Pratex workers was hurt recently in a violent
attack. Somebody tried to threaten him some days before the attack. The
whole story is a sad example that the juridical system is not working properly
and the people have to stretch the extremity to fullfil their rights when
it will be posible after all. And what is even more sad, Pratex is not
the only case where the "small man" suffers and speculants win because
of the bad legislation in Slovakia.