Serb leaders fail to agree on govt reshuffle, to continue talks on July 30

By bne IntelliNews July 30, 2013

The leaders of Serbia's three ruling parties failed to reach an agreement on the government reshuffling on Monday, July 29, and will continue the discussions on Tuesday, news agency Tanjug reported.

The talks among PM Ivica Dacic from the Socialist SPS party, deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic from Serbia Progressive Party (SNS) and finance and economy minister Mladjan Dinkic from URS began at 5pm local time on Monday but finished inconclusively more than four hours later.

No statement was issued after the meeting, which was held behind closed doors. It was expected that the final decision on the reshuffle would be taken on Monday, containing the split of Dinkic's ministry into two separate ones - with Dinkic keeping the finance minister post, while the economy ministry going to the hands of SNS, the biggest party in Serbia.

Still, there were speculations in some media ahead of the meeting that Dinkic and education minister Zarko Obradovic (SPS) would vacate their posts. However, in case Dinkic leaves the government, it is almost certain his URS party, which has another two ministers, will follow its leader and leave the coalition. This, however, would not endanger the stability of the cabinet since SNS-SPS will still hold a slip majority in parliament.

As far as the official information regarding the split of the finance and economy ministry is concerned, local economists see the move as positive, estimating it should have been done even earlier in order to speed up the solving of piled problems. On the other hand, the split will is expected to strengthen the positions of SNS, which initialled the reshuffle via handing it the key economic office.

Transport minister Milutin Mrkonjic (SPS) together with agriculture minister Goran Knezevic and culture minister Bratislav Petkovic, both from SNS, are also expected to leave their posts.

The reshuffle was initialled several months ago by SNS, whose leader Vucic has become increasingly popular thanks to his attempt to fight corruption and organised crimes. SNS has said it would seek reforming the government, which has different priorities now that the EU gave Serbia at end-June the greenlight for starting EU accession talks in early 2014.

SNS has said it is even ready to go on early elections if it fails to agree with its cabinet partners. If early elections were held today, SNS would indeed strengthen its positions as according to a couple of opinion polls some 40% of the citizens would vote for it. 

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