I don’t want to talk about Boris Tadic and his grasping for a straw and gasping for air. He can hide his physical deterioration behind the already grey hair, but the gaunt, pale, wrinkled face tells the truth about his state of mind. I want to talk about the new phenomenon on Serbia’s political horizon: Dveri Srpske.
Dveri are not a registered political party, they are a civic group that, under Serbia’s electoral law, can run in an election, but doesn’t fall under the same campaign finance regulations as political parties. They often call themselves “a patriotic movement of free people.” Dveri (plural) is an Old Slavic word meaning “doors” or “gate.” They are a hot commodity on Serbia’s electoral market mainly due to their unorthodox campaigning style and even less orthodox ideology. When I say unorthodox, I mean that they do not fit the description of your everyday Serbian political organization, in structure and in ideas. From the beginning of Serbia’s political pluralism, all the parties have been modeled on the League of Communists, with rigid hierarchies, charismatic or Machiavellian leaders at helm and both opportunistic and fanatical following. Dveri are a real pluralistic movement, without a strict hierarchical structure, relying on organic cells growing around the country out of their ideological adherents’ urge to organize and mobilize into “the movement for the life of Serbia,” as they officially dubbed themselves. At least it appears to be so. Their local activist cells have spread to about 60 towns and their ideologue leaders have traversed the country and the Serbian Diaspora talking the points of the New National Agreement they have fashioned out of their grievances. And it’s not a one-sided nonsense either. Bosko Obradovic, one of the founders, when asked of reasons Dveri decided to enter electoral politics, responded: “Because it’s become dishonest to stand by and watch Serbia decline.” And the New National Agreement is grounded in identifying and addressing the reasons for this decline as Dverjani – members of Dveri - see them, and offering comprehensive solutions.
Dveri grew out of the editorial board of the namesake Orthodox youth magazine, founded by students in the late 1990s. They are a nationalist organization with somewhat clericalist perspectives that calls for a return of the Serbian society to patriarchal guiding principles that have given the Serbs the particularity and sustainability of their national character. The return to family values is of paramount importance to Dverjani. Their designs for higher birth rate among Serbs are supported by the proposed governmental and institutional encouragement of larger nuclear families. The brain drain, high abortion rate and poverty have to be minimized if Serbs want to continue to biologically exist, Dveri argue. Dveri are not the only ones that recognize these problems, but they are the only ones that, in their relatively unrefined, idealistic way, find it obligatory to raise the alarm about the consequential fatality of not acting to stop these trends and to run on the platform tied into such theme. Others on Serbia’s political spectrum are too busy jabbing at one another, trading barbs, pointing fingers, bickering about non-essentials and backstabbing their way to an agency or corporate appointment, a donation, or a cheap political point or two, when they are not swearing loyalty or skepticism towards the EU and tearfully chest-bumping or lamenting about Kosovo. If these so-called leaders, politicians, apparatchiks and professional demagogues and parasites are lined up, a gun put to their head and offers of real, pragmatic and sensible solutions solicited in exchange for sparing their lives, there wouldn’t be enough bullets to go around. In the muddy habitat of parasitic subsistence that is Serbian politics, the energetic and deliberate drive of Dveri is at least refreshing and as such, worth Serbia’s attention.
I don’t want to come off as an advocate for Dveri, although I wouldn’t be ashamed if I did, and I won’t go into details of their political program. What should be noted is that they do have a comprehensive economic recovery and social reform plan and even though its viability can be debated in the light of a broader political dynamics in and around Serbia, it’s still a plan that a group of relatively young, concerned and proactive nationalists thought out, which brings about my next point.
The leadership of Dveri is on average much younger than your regular political party clique in Serbia. Bosko Obradovic is 35, Vladan Glisic is 41, Branimir Nesic is 37, Radovan Tvrdisic is 40, and so on. This is both a plus and a minus for Dveri, but in the long run it brings the movement a rather positive outlook. These are people from outside the establishment. Their views do not appear skewed by daily politicking and party lines. While they could have entered politics in a conventional way, by buying a party membership and elbowing their way up, they chose to stick to their own guns, follow their ideals and use their energies to beam an uncommonly brave agenda onto the murky Serbian sky. Due to their youth and inexperience in political arena, they are brushed aside as a non-viable political option that would struggle to win a seat in the Parliament. Due to their relative youth and the perceived infeasibility of their program, they are easily ridiculed and dismissed by the political mainstays, be it for their proposed economic reliance on agriculture or for their national self-subsistence agenda. A lot of pundits – and most pundits in Serbia work for a political group in power or in opposition, directly and indirectly – smirk at or gloat over their perceived lack of governing expertise. I can only laugh at this and notice that if the standards for governing expertise are set by the ruling establishment, Dveri are doing just fine being what they are. Expertise without patriotism and good intentions is the picture of Serbia today, sold out, disenfranchised and depraved. On the other hand, a lot of Serbs, completely dispirited by the failures of the ruling “experts,” would be inclined to support Dveri for their biggest perceived shortcoming: their youth. Young and independent of party politics, for many people in Serbia, translates into untainted and this could be the biggest argument in favor of Dveri if we have the upcoming election in mind. If we look at the long run, the youth of Dveri leadership guarantees their longevity in Serbia’s political life.
This longevity issue is tightly connected with another important and generally unexplored aspect of the Dveri phenomenon: their finances. If we presume that money in Serbia is tight and that to rely on individual donations outside of party fundraising machineries is, to say the least, infeasible, we must look deeper into the statement of Dveri that they are funded by “the people.” People in Serbia have no money or, at least, no serious political organization can afford to rely on such funding long-term. Those who do have money to donate to political organizations already have their favorites they picked based on the potential for return on investment. Dveri could subsist to a degree on people’s donations, especially if those people live abroad and a lot of Dveri supporters do. However, to stand that up against the funds available to, say, Dragan Djilas or Cedomir Jovanovic , puts things into a different, quite discouraging perspective. But, Dveri are a reality, and unless they are betting all of their chips on this one round, which I doubt, they are here to stay. There is a possibility that their electoral success would launch political careers of some of their leaders who may capitalize on their newly acquired stature and slide off into a lap of a more powerful political organization. My instincts and the methodical attribute of their political platform tell me otherwise: they plan to grow. In Serbia, of course, an offer of a steady government job can make one abandon one’s entire belief system, but this analysis would be pointless if it decided to take into account such far-fetched possibilities. Notwithstanding the uniqueness of their political views, the point that I keep delaying to get to is my assumption that Dveri have a more serious backer than just “the people.” I have mentioned their somewhat clericalist perspectives before and yes, you guess right: I’m driving at the Serbian Orthodox Church being that backer. This is not some “eureka” moment - this connection has been floated about - it’s just a natural conclusion, a reasonable expectation stemming from the fact that it is impossible to run a political or any other organization without steady and substantial funding and the ideology of Dveri is closest to that of the Church, in the political sense. I see it as encouraging, if it's true. While Dveri have been accused of being a decoy for some other powerful political factions in Serbia, like Kostunica's DSS or even Dragan Djilas, I, in my narrow-mindedness, can only believe what I see and what's around the corner, or maybe, what I’d hope for in my naïveté.
Let’s not take this further that it has to go. Dveri are not a clericalist organization; they are organic nationalists of a pastoral, patriarchal leaning, they call for the overthrow of influences that turned Serbia and Serbdom into a puppet state. They call for a greater independence of Serbia as a state and as a society, and of a Serb as an individual reliant on family tradition characteristic of our past and symptomatic of our national strength. It's premature to even talk about Dveri getting in a position to materialize their reformist ideals, but even the strength of their voice, their message and their methods are welcome and refreshing in the sea of illusory promises, parasitism, lethargy and apathy.