Serb FinMin Dinkic and his URS party might leave government after end-July reshuffle

By bne IntelliNews July 22, 2013

Serb economy and finance minister Mladjan Dinkic and his URS party might remain outside the government after the planned reshuffle due at the end of July if they decline to replace any ministers as part of the reform, according a report of daily Novosti based on unofficial information.

In case Dinkic declines to let go any URS ministers, the two main parties in the governing coalition – SNS and SPS and their leaders, deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic and PM Ivica Dacic, will reshuffle the current cabinet by July 27, leaving URS out of it, the report alleges.

According to the unofficial information, this looks the most realistic scenario for the time being after the previously announced opinion of URS that it will not change its cabinet ministers but only some 15 state servants of lower rank.

In order to carry out the reshuffle, all parties in the cabinet were tasked with reviewing the work of their ministers and undertaking the necessary changes in order to improve the government’s efficiency and fight the economic slowdown at a moment when Serbia had passed through another major challenge via improving its relations with Kosovo and securing a date for starting EU talks by January 2014.

URS has only three ministers including Dinkic. The remaining are deputy PM for EU Integration Suzana Grubesic and regional development minister Verica Kalanovic. Dinkic has said earlier he is completely satisfied with the work of Grubesic and Kalanovic. At the party’s board meeting on July 21, however, the three of them expressed their readiness to step down and not threaten the upcoming government reshuffle. Still, other leading URS officials say the party has nothing better to offer than the three current ministers.

The reshuffle also aims to adjust the government powers and policies to the current political situation, in which the biggest party in the country – SNS, has managed to strengthen even more its positions since the May 2012 elections thanks to the popularity of its leader – Vucic, and his fight against organised crime and corruption. Back in May 2012, however, despite winning the elections SNS was in a weak negotiating position and had to give up the PM seat to the kingmaker SPS party, while the key economy and finance ministry was offered to the much smaller URS.

Some reports even speculate the reshuffle might aim transferring the PM seat to the hands of SNS and Vucic from SPS and Dacic.  

There have been also talks of early elections, out of which SNS would expectedly emerge even stronger, if the negotiations with its cabinet partners get more complicated. The reshuffle has been announced for months now but the political leaders were awaiting the EU’s end-June decision for unblocking Serbia’s membership talks before embarking on the announced reforms on the domestic political scene.

Novosti says that SNS and SPS will begin this week talks on the new coalition agreement in order to form the reshuffled cabinet by July 27, 2013 – on the first anniversary of the current government’s inauguration. If URS leaves the coalition, the new government would still enjoy the support of 128 of the parliament’s 250 members.

In case the final talks also fail, SNS could then use the option to call early elections.

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