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Rare Show of Unity Among Serbian Parties Ober Bribery Scandal

Leaders of several of Serbia's governing and opposition parties said in the parliament on 19 May that controversial businessman Bogoljub Karic has recently expanded his influence in the legislature by bribing deputies to defect to his Snaga Srbije party (named after Italy's Forza Italia), dpa reported.

Reports of Karic allegedly trying to influence legislators with financial and other incentives are nothing new, but the recent decision by Zivadin Lekic of the Serbian Radical Party to join Snaga Srbije and thereby give it parliamentary status has set off a fresh controversy. Aleksandar Vucic of the SRS told the parliament that "we have to protect Serbia and agree that principles of theft cannot hold sway." Ivica Dacic of the Socialist Party of Serbia slammed what he called "this practice of cheating the voters."

Milos Aligrudic of the Democratic Party of Serbia charged Lekic with making a "financial deal" with Karic. Aligrudic added that "Karic tried to coax some of our people [to defect].... He offered them large amounts of money...and other incentives." Current election legislation -- adopted in 2004 on the recommendation of the OSCE -- permits legislators to retain their mandate if they switch parties.

(RFE/RL 20.v.05)

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