Mr. Boris Tadic, candidate of Democratic Party won the Presidential elections 2004, in Serbia , against Tomislav Nikolic, candidate of the Radical Party. This happened a year after the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic, when many expressed serious concern for the way Serbia was going.
Citizens in Serbia voted in majority for a program focused on peace, tolerance, reforms and above all European values and European integration of Serbia and Montenegro . The turnout was 48.29 % of electoral body, with undisputable difference of 245,036 votes in favor of Tadic. One must point out that the number of votes for Mr. Tadic doubled between two rounds. Having to choose between democracy and nationalistic populism, Serbian citizens opted for European future and not retrograde nationalistic propaganda.
Civic Initiatives and FeNS (Federation of Nongovernmental Organizations of Serbia) distributed almost a million leaflets and posters in 85 municipalities targeted by CESID. They were put in mailboxes or given directly to people by more than 600 young activists of local NGOs. The day before the electoral silence we published an add signed by 260 NGOs and one of the leaflets as supplements in two dailies, also with very good reactions. The annual Conference of CI and FENS was held in Belgrade on June 19/20 and gathered 260 organizations. A strong political statement was published supporting democratic candidate that respects values of civil society. Three declarations were adopted about European integration, Poverty reduction and Youth Participation.
The contribution of NGOs in the elections in 2000 was recognized as crucial for motivation and high participation of citizens for democratic change. This year, NGOs developed several GOTV campaigns and achieved a comparable result. First analysis shows the evident impact of GOTV campaign on elections results. The best evaluation of our efforts could be shown in figures: Serbia has 8,600 election sites. In our campaign we targeted around 1,500 election sites. The difference between Nikolic's and Tadic's final results was around 245,000 votes in favor of Tadic. On more than 1,500 sites that we targeted with our campaign the difference was 270,000 in favor of Tadic!
The common point of different campaigns was very precise targeting (to a voting post with specific addresses) based on CESIDs databases and analysis. Results of the GOTV campaign are obvious. For the first time after year 2000, in a number of towns and municipalities in province, citizens were motivated to express their democratic option again (examples with the turnout above 50%). Consequently, the democratic option prevailed in several cities where Radicals traditionally have had majority in previous elections.
The GOTV campaigns received substantial coverage at local media as well as at the national level. NGOs leadership took part in the media campaign (talk shows, interviews, articles, reviews).
A positive approach and optimistic messages were the tone of all NGOs communication with the citizens. P resence of NGOs has again become visible and their involvement is an encouraging sign of permanent interest for election and democracy issues.
- Important and measurable results can be achieved only if the campaign is run by a coalition of NGOs with precisely defined roles. In our case CESID was responsible for targeting, Civic Initiatives (using resources of Federation of NGOs of Serbia) and European Movement in Serbia with its branch offices were the "working bees" responsible for creating materials and actions and distributing materials
At the local level there are numerous potential sources of tensions - political, social and ethnic - with uneven geographical distribution. That is why it is necessary to encourage civil society in Serbia to play a role in local elections in September 2004, and contribute to the consolidation of democratic forces. Local elections will become the crucial issue in the political life of Serbia , with a potential to further strengthen results of the presidential elections.
This campaign was very important for the NGOs in Serbia . The election of Mr. Tadic opens new perspective for the whole sector. The campaign was a revival of old energy, commitment and solidarity in the sector, reactivating those that after the year 2000 were at the verge of giving up. Success was something the sector needed and successful we were.
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