Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Balkan Media: Orbán’s Referendum Has Failed

Adelina Marini, October 3, 2016

Media in the countries of former Yugoslavia are unanimous – Orbán’s referendum has failed. The subject was covered in the larger countries of the region (Serbia and Croatia), while in the smaller ones it is almost non-existent. Croatian daily newspaper Jutarnji list reports in a headline “An embarrassing defeat for Viktor Orbán”. Almost all Hungarians, who voted in the Sunday referendum, denounced the migrant quotas of the EU, but voter turnout was far below the necessary 50% for the results to be valid. Orbán stated that regardless of that, he will draft a change in the Constitution, so that the referendum’s results are legalised. “As was to be expected, Viktor Orbán did not want to admit the heavy defeat. Immediately after the results came out, Orbán organised an emergency press conference, at which there were no … journalists. Obviously, the Prime Minister did not wish to answer embarrassing questions, so he resorted to a monologue in front of TV cameras”, continues Jutarnji. Serbian Danas also prints that Orbán’s referendum has failed, but this does not stop the Hungarian PM. Blic also reports that the referendum has failed. The newspaper reports that, according to the opposition, the policy of hate of the Hungarian PM has failed. They also requested Orbán’s resignation, continues Blic

Tension in Srebrenica

While Hungarians were voting in Viktor Orbán’s populist referendum, local elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina just a week after the populist referendum in Republika Srpska. There are several pieces of news from yesterday’s vote in the municipalities and small settlements of the Dayton state. Media in the region report that there was a lot of tension in Srebrenica yesterday. Bosnian Dnevni avaz informs that yesterday, after 7 pm, the Serbian candidate for boss of Srebrenica municipality Mladen Grujičić announced victory, based on unofficial results. A bit before midnight, some Grujičić supporters gathered in front of a coffee shop in town.

Waving flags and chanting “This is Serbia” and “this is victory”, Serbian supporters celebrated until late into the night. Avaz reports that despite the fact that curfew hour in Srebrenica on weekends is midnight, “the orgy” lasted until 2 am. During the celebration streets in the region were blocked. Serbian information agency Tanjug adds that the leader of the Bosniaks Bakir Izetbegović and candidate Ćamil Duraković refused to accept that there will be a Serb candidate leading Srebrenica. Croatian Vecernji reports that celebrating Serbs were separated from a group of Bosniaks via a police cordon. 

Regarding the results themselves, Croatian Vecernji comments that national parties have consolidated their power and Dodik has swept the opposition. “Municipal elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina showed an increase in the influence of the largest national parties in the country, while the disunity of leftist parties in the BiH Federation has marginalised their influence, despite the Social Democratic Party managing to keep Tuzla as its traditional fort”, writes the newspaper and adds that Milorad Dodik’s party SNSD has won a decisive victory in Republika Srpska, while the Croatian part is dominated by HDZ BiH, which won the local elections in 18 municipalities – four more than at the year 2012 elections. The parties of Bakir Izetbegović and Fahrudin Radončić (SDA and SBB) won decisive victories in the Bosniak regions, further reports Vecernji

Bosnian Klix reports that, according to latest results, Serbian candidate Grujičić has double the votes of Duraković. Serbian Blic published a survey today on its website with the question whether Dodik has won at the local elections due to the referendum and his stubbornness. Most participants in the survey (out of a total of 306 voted so far) stated that Dodik would have won anyway. Those, who replied affirmative, are second. 

Serbian Komarnitski is in a bit more difficult situation than his Bulgarian prototype 

The big news of the weekend in Serbia is the firing of the famous Serbian cartoonist Dušan Petričić from the influential Serbian daily newspaper Politika. In front of Danas, which ran this as headline news of today’s edition, the cartoonist confirmed that the reason is his refusal to give in to the pressure not to publish cartoons of PM Aleksandar Vučić so often. Petričić was informed about the discontinuation of his labour contract with Politika by Žarko Rakić, who is serving as editor-in-chief and managing editor of the newspaper. “I said I could not comply with the request, because I work once a week and the caricatures’ content is based on the situation”, explains Petričić to Danas. Serbian national television RTS aired the reaction of the cabinet of Aleksandar Vučić, which adamantly disproves any allegations of interference in the editorial policy of Politika

"The cabinet believes that Politika should continue to publish Petričić’s cartoons, as they are a problem for no one and even bring bonus points to the Prime Minister”, says in the cabinet’s message. "They [cartoons] show that people, who do not follow changes, and who have the sharpest anti-governmental of positions, as well as personal hatred for the PM, should have their space for unimpeded work in the future, as it has been before”, continues the reply from the PM’s office. On this occasion journalist Vukašin Obradović, president of the Association of Independent Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) published the following joke on Twitter: “Are you the editor of Politika? – Yes, I am the editor of Politika. – So you are the editor of Politika! – No, no, I am not”. The situation with the Serbian cartoonist reminds a lot of a similar feud between Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov and the famous Bulgarian cartoonist of Sega daily newspaper Christo Komarnitski. The difference is that Mr Komarnitski is not fired. Prime Ministers’ reactions, however, were identical. 

Macedonia in the liberal Middle Ages

Macedonian Dnevnik  comes out today on first page with the headline “Welcome to the new Middle Ages”. The newspaper prints a commentary by Mirka Velinovska with the headline “With Pržino Macedonia gave in to the liberal inquisition”. “With the Pržino agreement and the consent of four party leaderships (generously encouraged by the Euro-Atlantic democracies and under pressure from the Soros-USAidiotic revolutionary activists) in the 21st century it silently agreed to be ruled by the para institutions of the inquisition and the censorship. Even a papal bull was not necessary for Macedonia. It was enough to have the consent of the two anointed journalists’ associations, the two anointed journalists’ unions, and the silence of the so called autonomous intellectuals. Politicians of the disempowered Macedonia are even not included in this dark fairytale. They are a world of their own. They do not need freedom, or democracy. On the contrary”, is written in the commentary.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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