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October 20, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 263
Research: Public Opinion in Serbia - October ‘96

"Together" Increases Advantage

by Milan Milosevic

By the order of Vreme the agency Partner - Marketing concluded the second in the series of three pre-electoral public opinion polls. The poll was conducted from October 9th - 13th in 29 administrative communities or 99 administrative units, on a sample of 1082 citizens of voting age in Serbia, excluding Kosovo. Until the election date there will be the third on-site poll and those results will be also published by Vreme.

The first poll was conducted from September 26th - 30th 1996. At that time ex-governor Dragoslav Avramovic agreed to lead the coalition Together, and exactly as the second round started, the news was published that the governor had withdrawn. The coalition of workers, farmers and democrats Together remained without a leader whose appearance in the political arena rose adrenaline. The ex-governor of the National Bank of Yugoslavia Dragoslav Avramovic informs his coalition partners on October 9th that he will not be able to lead the coalition due to illness. There were many speculations on the causes of his retreat, none of which seemed convincing enough. The pressure put on him by the West was denied by the American, English and German diplomats; the condition of his health, which could be considered as a general cause of his retreat, has not considerably changed lately.... Since the state controlled media have started to use the well-known methods against the leaders of the opposition, the most likely reason could be Avramovic’s incertitude of being able to hold out against the emerging public humiliation. In one of his recent interviews to the newspaper Metalac of the Independent Union he said that his greatest fear comes from the "the deviousness in the course of the campaign".

At the first glance, it appeared that this resignation will trim off the wings of the centralist opposition block. After his retreat, the media closer to the regime have started to enjoy themselves and present the state of the opposition as bewildering. The newspaper Vecernje Novosti stated in the article entitled "Grandchildren Lost Their Head" that "for the time being the drama in the coalition is (un)successfully concealed and that it might split completely." In the front page commentary, the state controlled newspaper Borba estimates that the ex-governor "has finally realized" that "the people from the international financial institutions -whom he worked with for decades- are completely different from those from his already ex-family."

The coalition Together has, however, continued with the campaign (a series of gatherings were held) that pretends that nothing has happened.

According to the Partner’s research, the effect of the retreat of Avramovic failed to meet the expectations of the ruling party. Pollsters succeeded to ask the following question to the majority of 85% of those polled (since the poll was already under way when Avramovic withdrew):

Will the retreat of Avramovic from the electoral run influence your choice of the candidate?

No - responded 62.3% of pollees.

Yes - responded 13.9% of pollees.

The pollees, however, have sent the message that they ask from the politicians to be persistent and billed a "small" receipt to Avramovic for his departure: the last time Avramovic dominated the list of the persons of confidence, and now his rating has fallen from 43% to 30.7%, while the others are where they were before. In other words, voters have not punished the Coalition but the governor.


In the Class, but Absent


As it seems, Avramovic is now "present in his absence". Neither he, nor the staff of the coalition Together have officially informed the Federal Electoral Committee on the resignation; the list of "Together - Avramovic" still carries the same name and it will probably keep it. The carrier of the list is still Avramovic and all chances are that the coalition will wait for the Federal Electoral Committee itself to eliminate him from the list. In that case the list will not have the carrier, and the message that Avramovic was chased away by force will gain weight. However, the Federal Electoral Committee has informed the public several times that it has not received any initiative either from the coalition or from the carrier of the list, so it had no reason to initiate anything. Avramovic is still the candidate for the parliamentary representative of the electoral unit Palilula. This, however, is the smallest problem because even if he withdraws after the elections he will be substituted with the next candidate from the list of Together’s candidates. Partner's research even shows that the coalition has gained followers during this dramatic period.

Which party would you vote for if the elections for the Yugoslav Parliament were to be held today (October 9th through 13th 1996)?

For the coalition Together 31.1%

For the coalition SPS-JUL-ND 22.2%

The new polling round brought another surprise. Along with the news about the retreat of Avramovic and the possible crisis in the coalition Together, came the statistical report that this coalition could count on -even by one third- more votes than it obtained in 1993! In Partner’s September poll (September 26th-30th), the voters’ selection resembled the results from 1993. The left coalition SPS-JUL-ND could count on 24.2% of votes (in the election of 1993, SPS got 24.3%), while the coalition Together had 28.5% (the comprising parties - Depos, DS and DSS - won 23.2% of votes in 1993). Another agency, Mark Plan from Pancevo, conducted the poll in an earlier period (from September 20th to 26th) on the sample of 2500 citizens of Serbia (both polls exclude Kosovo). It came to similar conclusions - that 20.4% voters intend to vote for SPS, for the Serbian Democratic Party 8%, for the Serbian Radical Party 6.8%, for the Serbian Renewal Movement 5.3%, for the Democratic Party 5.2%, for the "United Opposition" 4.9%, for the JUL 3%, for other parties 1.2%, some 8% will not vote and 29.7% of voters have not made up their minds. Adding the votes assigned to the both coalitions, the result is similar to the outcome of the 1993 elections. The left coalition (SPS, JUL, ND) gains 23.7% and the coalition Together 23.9%.


An Almost Capitulation


The October poll of Partner, however, hints at something that could not even be imagined until now: the electorate of the centralist opposition (numbering 1,400,000 voters) could obtain another half a million voters! The devotion of the electorate changed mostly in the Central Serbia excluding Belgrade, where the coalition Together gained almost 40% more than in 1993. The rise in Belgrade is not so remarkable compared to the previous poll, but is still on the level as high as 35.8%. In Vojvodina, the coalition Together is stronger by 27% of votes, which has never happened before. It is one step ahead of the left coalition (25.1%) and both coalitions are apparently getting stronger at the expense of smaller parties, even at the expense of the radicals who are partially consolidating in Vojvodina after the announced debacle by the previous poll.

Is this "almost capitulation" development probable? There is still time to see whether this is merely a temporary mood or some more permanent trend. Some of this phenomenon is not a matter of paradox but of electoral mathematics. Voters are slowly concentrating around the two major groups. Partially due to the election system which is the actual guillotine for small parties, partially due to the fact that two times less representatives are to be elected for the federal parliament than, for instance, for the Serbian parliament, small parties give up on the race or join with the major coalitions.


Hunting for the Youth


Each year, some 100,000 adolescents become of age, while approximately the same number of veterans abandon the march. It is well known that the SPS voters are mostly elderly, and that the voters for the coalition Together belong to the younger generations. It is also well known that the left coalition, aware of the crumbling of its electorate, has been fighting for the young souls for almost a year.

Like before, it seems that the younger voters, at least verbally, opt for the opposition. According to the previous poll, among those that had no voting right in 1993, 32.2% opted for the coalition Together, and only 9.3% for SPS-JUL-ND. However, this does not mean that they will give up. JUL has recently published an advertisement using dance music rhythms that directly addresses the youth: "Vote for Yourself!". Before that, they launched the appropriate slogan: "Bye Mommy, I'm Going Left!"

The constituents of the coalition Together are still stumbling in the dark like a family getting ready for vacation: "Where has grandpa disappeared to?!"

The curves of the main participants in the elections are obviously streaming upwards as a considerably reliable indicator of the awakening of the electorate from deep lethargy, maybe due to the simplification of the political arena and the effects of the campaign.

However, to decipher the charts it is necessary to bear in mind that Partner’s poll shows that 16.9% of the electorate is still contemplating. It is not positive that even those determined will not become hesitant. Maybe the causes for the statistical fluctuations should be researched among the newcomers.

The trouble with the young voters is that they are easily encouraged, but they are equally prone to easily give up and resent getting involved in battles with meek chances. However, we shall deal with the profile of the voters - newcomers and the structure of those who are indecisive in the next issue of Vreme after analyzing the results of both rounds of the Partner poll.


The Two Simulations


After the first poll from September has indicated the similarities with the ‘93 elections, the Documentation Center of Vreme has simulated the situation applying the results from ‘93 at the two newly-created coalitions. The simulation is intended to help our readers find their way in the pre-electoral mathematics.

On the example of the electoral unit no. 1 Palilula which has 4 candidates, we took the results of SPS, the summary results of the coalition Together from 1993 and the results of radicals and in the last issue, divided them with 1, 2, 3 and 4, sorting the quotient by ascending order:


KZ (Coalition Together) 101321/1 = 101321

SPS 50868/1 = 50868

KZ 101321/2 = 50660.5

KZ 101321/3 = 33773.67

SPS 50868/2 = 25434

KZ 101321/4 = 25330.25

SRS (Serbian Radical Party) 21251/1 = 21251


In the electoral unit Palilula, the simulation showed that the coalition Together leads against SPS by 3:1. The socialists in Serbia were still leading by 57:41.

The deviations of this poll compared to the old results from 1993 were ignored, mostly because they did not point to the considerable change in results. Since it is not possible to ignore the difference between the October dedication of the electorate and the voting from 1993 resulting from the second poll, again for the sake of better orientation of our readers, we have created the simulation as if the polling results represented real voting. The calculation basis was created by multiplying the results from 1993 with the index that reflects the difference of the current rating of the parties compared to the results from ‘93.

For example, in Belgrade, the index for the coalition Together is 35.8 : 32 = 1.12 (the new percentage of the followers divided by the old ones from ‘93). For instance, the number of voters of the coalition in the community Palilula from 1993 was 101,321, which we multiplied by 1.12 and came up with 113,352. The same method was applied to calculate the possible number of votes for other parties.

In Vojvodina, the corrective factor is one, in Central Serbia, another. Within Central Serbia we kept to the average modification of the electorate mood (see the table), and the possible difference between, say, Sumadia and the area along "the railway leading south" have been neglected for various reasons. The coalition Together has forced the "railway leading south", there were social conflicts there, so possibly the development in Kragujevac and Leskovac might take the same pace. Some of the influence that the opposition had in Central Serbia has been lost (after the role of Studio B changed). Along with it, the 1993 results of the opposition in the South gives a lower basis, so the variation error will be of lesser significance. In the electoral units with lower number of mandates, the determining factor is the rule of great numbers.

So we applied Dont’s formula on the new results for all parties, by the regions, as if they were real.

According to the simulation, the first four mandates of the electoral unit Palilula would be assigned as follows:

1. Together 113,352/1 = 113,352

2. Together 113,352/2 = 56,676

3. SPS-JUL-ND 41,091/1 = 41,091

4. Together 113,352/3 = 37,748


The result in this community has not changed - it remained 3:1 in favor of Together. However, on the level of Serbia (see "Electoral Compass") we came to the estimate that, were the elections held on October 13th, on the date of the forcasted end of the world, and were the pollees to vote as they said they would, the coalition Together would win 55 mandates in Serbia for the Yugoslav Parliament, and the coalition SPS, ND, JUL - 49.

Enjoy the results until the election. The team of experts from Partner believes that they have a representative sample of pollees, but those who deal with opinion polls know that the accurate examination of the current mood of the electorate is in no way an election forecast. It was just a possibility based on the opinions of 1082 pollees expressed in one week.

In the next two weeks people may strengthen their determination, and yet on the other hand they may change their opinion based on some impressions, which will be registered in the next poll. Readers themselves are going to take into consideration the possibility that the examined representative sample could not escape the general notion of talking one way (usually the way it should be) and acting differently (usually to one’s own disadvantage), which has been always the manner of behavior in Serbia.


Faces in the Mirror


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


The marketing experts tend to ignore the good marks of the politicians in the campaigns, and they quickly wash and iron the bad ones.


Slobodan Milosevic

Good marks: ambitious (4.08); eloquent (3.63); cunning (3.76); educated (3.6)

Bad marks: honest (2.3); consistent (2.58); good looking (2.68)


Mirko Marjanovic

Good marks: ambitious (4.8); cunning (3.76); eloquent (3.63); educated (3.6)

Bad marks: honest (1.96); interesting (2.06); consistent (2.18); farsighted (2.08)


Vuk Draskovic

Good marks: ambitious (3.63); eloquent (3.61); educated (3.58)

Bad marks: balanced (1.94); consistent (2.01); decisive (2.49)


Vojislav Seselj

Good marks: ambitious (3.7); eloquent (3.67); educated (3.59)

Bad marks: balanced (1.66); good looking (1.66); farsighted (2.38); consistent (2.42)


Zoran Djindjic

Good marks: ambitious (3.8); eloquent (3.54); educated (3.77); good looking (3.51)

Bad marks: honest (2.47); consistent (2.5); farsighted (2.5); decisive (2.9)


Vojislav Kostunica

Good marks: educated (3.71); ambitious (3.51); eloquent (3.4)

Bad marks: farsighted (2.71); decisive (2.86); interesting (2.87); consistent (2.88)


Mirjana Markovic

Good marks: ambitious (3.72); educated (3.34); cunning (3.3)

Bad marks: beautiful (2.13); honest (2.17); farsighted (2.25); interesting (2.26); consistent (2.42)


Vesna Pesic

Good marks: ambitious (3.4); educated (3.3); eloquent (3.04)

Bad marks: interesting (2.3); farsighted (2.3); honest (2.38); consistent (2.39)


(Source: XIII Public Opinion Poll of the agency Mark Plan, September 1996; Impression made by individual politicians, on a rating of 1 to 5)

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