New flame for the Serbian left

The former Social Democratic Union, reborn as Party of the Radical Left declares support for workers’ rights

In the aftermath of the disastrous triumph of Alexandеr Vučić’s reactionary-nationalist and quasi-leftist coalition in June this year, brought on largely through election boycotts by most opposition parties, the Serbian workers’ left was once again deprived of any governmental representation. Enter the Social Democratic Union, one of the parties participating in the boycott that has thereby consciously missed a chance to potentially regain its position as a parliamentary party (although the results of the 2016 election, as well as the rise of more prominent opposition forces show that this would have been unlikely). 

The party was founded largely as a leftist counterweight to the then-dominant influence of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), a descendant of the Communist Party. Paradoxically, the Communist Party directed the transition of the country away from socialism, led by one nationalist demagogue and a suspected war criminal Slobodan Milošević. He was subsequently ousted by a coalition of progressive and pro-democracy parties following the 2000 presidential election; a coalition that SDU was part of, holding 4 parliamentary seats following the parliamentary elections held the same year. This early 2000s situation was in fact largely mirrored in this year’s election. The coalition counting SDU among its ranks is trying to stir unrest and oust the current president – Alexander Vučić (and has been doing so ever since the 2017 presidential election) who is even more openly nationalist. Milošević’s fellow warmonger Vučić was a fellow warmonger alongside Milošević. Now, Vučić’s party –  the Serbian Progressive Party (a name that in itself is another paradox, as it is anything but) leads the coalition with the aforementioned SPS. The opposition coalition has been accusing the government of rigging various elections, and as a sign of protest have decided not to participate in this year’s elections, urging their supporters to take to the streets instead. 

However, three consequent elections with no MP positions won have done little to invigorate the once-somewhat-prominent SDU, a predicament that has likely confirmed a long-held suspicion by the party leadership that a reform was in order. Therefore, at the 12th SDU Regular Congress held on the 7th of September a new Programme was put forth along with several statutory changes and a Declaration on Workers’ Rights, all of which were aimed at streamlining the party organization towards firmer new-leftist and internationalist ideals, and all of which were consequently accepted. These statutory changes included renaming the Party to the Party of Radical Left, as well as setting up goals and a party structure more similar to other ex-Yugoslav workers’ parties such as the Workers’ Front of Croatia and The Left of Slovenia – a move perhaps emboldened by recent notable gains in prominence by these regional ideological counterparts of the PRL. 

Notably, the Party espouses that regional cooperation and cooperation with leftist forces across the continent will be held as key objectives (they have already announced that they consider themselves aligned with DiEM25 movement and Party of the European Left), as well as consolidating disparate leftist forces in the country into a new, anti-capitalist, internationalist, green and socially progressive forum – this whole reformation being, in fact, a culmination of events beginning in 2018 via a call for unity initiated by the SDU and aimed at other leftist forces to form a national united socialist front, an opportunity many prominent personalities and organizations have already accepted.

Photo: ”People before Profits” is the slogan of the Serbian Party of Radical Left (former Social Democratic Union)

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