Serbia Democrats Split on Eve of Key Congress

Two days ahead of a key congress on the party’s future questions arise whether the party will get new leadership or split.Part of the membership is unhappy with the party leader, Serbia’s former President, Boris Tadic, who is widely blamed for having concentrated too much power in his hands and losing the May elections.On the other side is Mayor of Belgrade Dragan Djilas, deputy president of the Democrats and the only senior Democrat to do well in the elections. Djilas won the Belgrade elections in May and was appointed Mayor for the second time.

Party officials have told Balkan Insight that Djilas is expected to hand in his resignation from the party because of the ongoing rivalry with Tadic.

If his resignation is accepted, this could lead to Djilas starting a new party. Another option, the party source says, is Djilas effectively taking over the party leadership from Tadic.

While most party members position themselves on one of the two sides, some want Bojan Pajtic, head of the provincial Vojvodina government and deputy president of the party, to take over.

Pajtic is seen as a serious politician with clean past who has been a member of the party’s presidency since the days of the late Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic.

According to some sources, Pajtic is seen as a man who could keep the party united and reformed.

Since the presidential and parliamentary elections, party officials have been publicly bickering and blaming each other for the defeat and loss of power.

Either way, the congress will be the first opportunity for the Democrats to analyze the causes and consequences of their defeat.

Bozidar Djelic, another Democratic party presidency member, has said that changes in the party are clearly necessary.

Djelic said any attempt to prevent such changes could lead to the breakup of the Democratic Party.

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