|Vice president||Sa?a Paunovi?|
|Parliamentary leader||Goran ?iri?|
|Founder||The Founding Committee of the Democratic Party|
|Founded||3 February 1990|
|Preceded by||Democratic Party (Yugoslavia)|
(not legal predecessor)
|Headquarters||Nu?i?eva 6/II, Belgrade|
|Youth wing||Democratic Youth|
|National affiliation||Alliance for Serbia|
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists (associate)|
|International affiliation||Progressive Alliance|
|Assembly of Vojvodina|
|City Assembly of Belgrade|
The Democratic Party (Serbian: ?, romanized: Demokratska stranka; abbr. ?C or DS; listen (help·info)) is a social-democratic and social-liberalpolitical party in Serbia. It is the major centre-left party in Serbia and is the fifth largest party in the National Assembly. The Democratic Party is a full member of the Progressive Alliance, and is an associate member of the Party of European Socialists.
The party was officially founded on 3 February 1990 by a group of Serbian intellectuals as a revival of the original Yugoslav Democratic Party. It was one of the main opposition parties to the presidency of Slobodan Milo?evi? during the 1990s. Democratic Party joined the Democratic Opposition of Serbia coalition in 2000, and became part of the new coalition government after the 2000 parliamentary election. Zoran ?in?i?, then president of the Democratic Party, became the Prime Minister of Serbia in January 2001, but was assassinated in 2003, and the Party lost the power at the parliamentary election later that year. New president of the Democratic Party, Boris Tadi?, won the 2004 presidential election, and the party returned to power after the 2007 and 2008 parliamentary elections. Tadi? was reelected in 2008, but in 2012 he lost the 2012 presidential and the party lost the parliamentary elections, so it went back into opposition again. Dragan ?ilas, then-Mayor of Belgrade was elected as new party president after the loss of the 2012 elections. After more disappointing results in the 2014 election,Bojan Pajti?, then-President of the Government of Vojvodina, replaced ?ilas as the party president. In 2016 he was succeeded by Dragan ?utanovac. After ?utanovac resigned in 2018, Zoran Lutovac was elected new president of the Party.
On 11 December 1989, a group of Serbian intellectuals held a press conference announcing the revival of the Democratic Party, which had existed in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia before it was banned by the communists following World War II.
They included anti-communist dissidents and liberal academics, well-known poets, writers and film and theatre directors, who all came together in December 1989 to begin the process of re-establishing the Democratic Party, which was to be the first opposition, non-communist political party in Serbia since 1945. Some were attracted to politics by what they perceived to be the unsatisfactory national position of ethnic Serbs and Serbia as a constituent republic within the Yugoslav federation, while others felt that activity in a political party could help address the perceived deteriorating state of democracy and human rights in SFR Yugoslavia. Up to that point in time, the former primarily acted through the Serbian Writers Association (Udru?enje knji?evnika Srbije) while the latter channeled their activities through the Social Sciences Institute (Institut dru?tvenih nauka) and the Philosophy Club (Filozofsko dru?tvo). Sprinkled throughout the newly assembled group were also some surviving members of the pre-World War II party. Though the grip of the Communist League (SKJ), the only constitutionally allowed party in Yugoslavia's one-party political system, was not nearly as strong as it once was, DS members still feared the authorities' reaction to the party's creation.
The first public proclamation of the Founding Committee was made on 11 December 1989 at a press conference held in Belgrade where the members publicly declared their intention to re-establish the Democratic Party (DS) which had been banned by the communists in 1945. The Founding Committee called upon all democratically minded citizens to join them in this endeavour.
There were thirteen signatories to the initial proclamation made by the members of the Founding Committee setting out their intention to initiate the re-establishment of the Democratic Party: Kosta ?avo?ki, Milovan Danojli?, Zoran ?in?i?, Gojko ?ogo, Vladimir Gligorov, Slobodan Ini?, Marko Jankovi?, Vojislav Ko?tunica, Dragoljub Mi?unovi?, Borislav Peki?, Miodrag Peri?i?, Radoslav Stojanovi?, and Du?an Vukajlovi?. Over the following weeks nine other prominent intellectuals joined the thirteen initiators as members of the Founding Committee. They all worked together towards re-establishing the Democratic Party by drafting the first party political program and making preparations for the founding party conference. By the end of December 1989, the Founding Committee also included: Vida Ognjenovi?, Ljubomir Tadi?, Mirko Petrovi?, ?ur?e Ninkovi?, Nikola Milo?evi?, Aleksandar-Sa?a Petrovi?, Aleksandar Ili?, Vladan Vasilijevi?, and Zvezdana Popovi?.
In the first two weeks of January the Founding Committee drafted the political program of the soon to be re-established Democratic Party which was published on 18 January 1990 as the "Pismo o namerama" (Letter of intent) to inform the public of the democratic principles and policies which the Democratic Party would pursue. The Letter of Intent was signed by all the 22 Members of the Founding Committee.
Throughout January 1990 the Founding Committee worked on publicising the party's proposed political program and its democratic aims. It worked on gathering potential party members to ensure a successful founding conference. It finally organised the founding conference of the renewed Democratic Party on 3 February 1990 at which the party was formally re-established by several hundred founder members, including former members from the 1940s and a younger generation of new members. At the founding conference the founder members elected the party President, the Executive and General Committees tasked with running the party. Following the founding conference the party started establishing local committees and networks throughout Serbia.
However, the Democratic Party was strictly an illegal organisation until late spring of 1990 when it was finally given permission to be formally registered as a political party by the Communist regime. At that time the party newspaper Demokratija (Democracy) was also established to inform the public of what the DS was trying to achieve, since the Communist controlled state media did not give any coverage to it.
Even before the founding conference was held, differences over the Kosovo issue surfaced. The party presidency was contested between Dragoljub Mi?unovi? and Kosta ?avo?ki, two of DS' most prominent members. At the DS founding conference on 3 February 1990, Mi?unovi? was elected president while ?avo?ki became the Executive Board (Izvr?ni odbor) president. Desimir To?i? and Vojislav Ko?tunica were named vice presidents.
Under Mi?unovi?, DS did not have strong leadership, as the longtime university professor preferred a relaxed intellectual approach to a rigid party structure.
DS members participated in the first anti-government protests in 1990. ?avo?ki resigned his post as the party's executive board president on 29 September 1990; Zoran ?in?i? got named to the post.
At the parliamentary elections on 9 December 1990, the party was on the ballot in 176 of 250 electoral districts, getting 374,887 votes that translated into 7 assembly seats.
Only several days prior to the elections, ?avo?ki left DS thinking that the conditions for a free and fair elections were not yet present in Serbia. Other DS members like Nikola Milo?evi?, Vladan Vasilijevi?, and film director Sa?a Petrovi? accompanied him. By January 1991 they formed the Serbian Liberal Party (SLS), a conservative liberal party that favoured a monarchy instead of a republic and pushed for the rehabilitation of the politically-persecuted Serbs that were sentenced, exiled, or executed by the post-World War II communist Yugoslav authorities. SLS also wanted the Serbian government to set up an office whose job would be to comprehensively work on collecting, marking, and commemorating the Serbian victims of the Balkan Wars, World War I, and World War II. ?avo?ki's lasting legacy in the party was that its party program stated until 1997 that "DS is working towards the re-unification of Serbian lands".
On the other hand, DS had a very liberal economic program courtesy of economists Vladimir Gligorov and Slobodan Ini? who were able to push it through as party policy, despite being in minority, because most other members were not really concerned with economic matters. Both Giligorov and Ini? left DS when the party decided to throw its support behind Prince Tomislav Kara?or?evi? at the FR Yugoslavia 1992 presidential elections.
In July 1992, a much more serious fragmentation of the Democratic Party occurred when a large group led by Vojislav Ko?tunica left to establish the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS). Overnight, DS lost 40% of its membership, including such prominent members as Mirko Petrovi?, ?ur?e Ninkovi?, Vladeta Jankovi?, Dra?ko Petrovi? and Vladan Bati?. The immediate issue behind the split was their dissatisfaction over the DS decision not to enter the DEPOS coalition. A deeper cause was differences over the handling of the so-called national question that had been brewing within DS for quite some time.
Later that year at the 1992 parliamentary elections on 20 December (scheduled early following a referendum, among other things due to disintegration of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and formation of the new state entity Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), DS fared poorly with 196,347 votes, down by almost two hundred thousand, giving the party only 6 assembly seats.
This is when the energetic 40-year-old DS founding member Zoran ?in?i? began to assert himself at a time when DS was burdened by dwindling membership, only 6 MPs in the assembly and unclear political positions. Though Mi?unovi? was still formally president, ?in?i? increasingly became the face of DS. By summer 1993 ?in?i? aggressively set about implementing his vision. His primary concern became establishing strong party infrastructure on the ground through a network of municipal branches that answered to party central in Belgrade. Zoran ?ivkovi?, future short-time Serbian Prime Minister, who was at the time a DS member in the local Ni? branch put it as follows:
|"||?in?i? decided to transform this group of well-mannered people who spend their time pontificating on the events happening around them into a big political entity. He decided that the party which already had a brain should get a body and some muscles.||"|
?in?i? got his first chance to gauge the results of his approach before he formally became its president. In October 1993, Serbian president Slobodan Milo?evi? dissolved the parliament, scheduling a parliamentary elections for 19 December 1993. As a result, DS main board met twice that month, on the 16 and 30 October, deciding that ?in?i? rather than party president Mi?unovi? will lead the election campaign. Supported by a carefully crafted media and marketing campaign featuring memorable "Po?teno" slogan, DS recorded its best result to date with 497,582 votes, giving them 29 assembly seats. However, despite improvement over previous elections, the party was still well behind Milo?evi?'s SPS, DEPOS coalition (headed by Vuk Dra?kovi?'s SPO), and Vojislav ?e?elj's SRS.
Ahead of the December 1993 parliamentary elections DS was in advanced negotiations with SPS about forming a coalition between the two parties. Following the summer 1993 disintegration of SPS' coalition with SRS, Milo?evi? turned to DS. Opposed by party leader Mi?unovi?, the idea of a coalition with Milo?evi? found a more receptive audience among some other DS members, including ?in?i?. The issue of the DS' coalition negotiations with Milo?evi? is still controversial with certain DS members such as Zoran ?ivkovi? denying that they ever took place. Others like Mi?unovi? and high-ranking member Goran Vesi? claimed they had indeed taken place.
The new balance of power within DS led to an early party conference. At the party conference on 5 January 1994 in Belgrade, ?in?i? became president, pushing out personal political mentor Mi?unovi? who was forced into resigning as the local party branches turned against him. The (in)famous quip uttered at the conference by 41-year-old ?in?i? about 63-year-old Mi?unovi? was: "Mi?unovi?'s time has passed.... He's no Tina Turner who sings better now than when she was thirty". In his embittered speech at the conference during which he resigned his post, Mi?unovi? characterized the manner of ?in?i?'s takeover of DS as the "combination of Machiavellianism and revolutionary technique". In this internal party showdown with Mi?unovi?, ?in?i? also benefited from some discreet support in the Milo?evi?-controlled state-run media. Though many DS members didn't like the way this transfer of power was executed, symbolically referring to it as "oceubistvo" (patricide), many others such as founding member Gojko ?ogo found benefits in ?in?i?'s agile approach:
|"||Mi?unovi? is without any doubt a man of tolerance, but he is not able to mobilize those around him into action and as a result the party stagnated under him. When ?in?i? realized this, he made a clean break, cut Mi?unovi? out and began to mold the DS party into a well-oiled enterprise.||"|
Following Mi?unovi?'s resignation, party vice-president Vida Ognjenovi? also resigned. Getting in alongside new party president ?in?i? were new party vice-presidents, Miroljub Labus and Miodrag Peri?i?, while Ivan Vuja?i? became the new overseeing board president. Ljiljana Lu?i? became new executive board president and Sr?a Popovi? became the president of the party's youth wing.
?in?i? managed to quickly move DS away from what he occasionally referred to in derisive terms as the "debate club" towards a modern and efficient organizational structure that functioned according to a business management model. On 12 May 1994, the party's main board met to discuss the decision by the two DS members, Slobodan Radulovi? and Radoje ?uki?, to enter the SPS government of Mirko Marjanovi?. Both were expelled from DS, while the party's political council president Slobodan Vu?kovi? resigned. Another early party conference was called and held on 25 June 1994 in Novi Sad; this time the party elected its all new political council with Radomir ?aper as the new council president.
The following year, on 15 April 1995, regular party conference was held and ?in?i? got re-elected as party president. Labus and Peri?i? stayed vice-presidents while Slobodan Gavrilovi? and Zoran ?ivkovi? became vice-presidents as well. Disappointed and marginalized ever since his resignation from the position of the party president 14 months earlier, Mi?unovi? left DS after this conference, founding non-governmental organization Centre for Democracy that eventually transformed into Democratic Centre (DC). Others that followed him to DC were Desimir To?i?, Vida Ognjenovi?, Bora Kuzmanovi?, as well as many other prominent, though mostly older, DS party members. Mi?unovi? offered the following as his view of the events of the period:
|"||After his row with ?e?elj, Milo?evi? offered me co-operation because he wanted to make a coalition with DS after SPS' coalition with ?e?elj's SRS broke apart. Among the things he was offering me was the position of FR Yugoslavia's ambassador to the UN, all of which I flatly rejected. After my refusal, he turned to some other people in DS. I realized that my rigid stance on this issue doesn't have a clear support within the party and that DS wants to shed its election loser image by trying a different, more flexible approach. I didn't want to stand in the way of this wave of pragmatism that ?in?i? pushed within the party. After the elections, Milo?evi? continued pursuing ?in?i? because he wanted to form a government with DS. ?in?i? himself told me Milo?evi? offered him the Prime Minister position in the new government. I strongly advised him not to take it. Seeing that SPS had 123 MPs and we had 29, I was convinced that Milo?evi? would use him and dump him like he did with Dobrica ?osi? and Milan Pani? a few years earlier. Despite my protestations ?in?i? wanted to take the offer, telling me that he can outfox Milo?evi? from within. In the end no government was formed with DS. Four years later, in 1998, ?in?i? told me Milo?evi? ended up offering him only the deputy prime minister position as the deputy to SPS' Mirko Marjanovi? instead of the promised prime ministerial role. ?in?i? refused, so Milo?evi? then went to Slobodan Radulovi? who accepted.||"|
Though a much better organized party under ?in?i?, DS still experienced trouble formulating a clear stance on the national question. ?in?i?'s own actions perhaps made a good illustration of this seemingly confused standing on both sides of the issue. ?in?i? basically refused to acknowledge the national question as a real issue, making not a single mention of the Serbs living in other parts of the former Yugoslavia in his book Yugoslavia as an Unfinished State. At the same time he maintained close links with Bosnian Serb war leader Radovan Karad?i?, visiting him at Pale in February 1994 while American forces threatened to bombard Bosnian Serb positions. This seeming flip-flopping on the national issue was effectively used by DS' political opponents and ?in?i?'s critics across the political spectrum.
As the Bosnian War ended with the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in November 1995, in addition to his grip on power domestically, Milo?evi? enjoyed stable support from the international community that recognized him as the "peace and stability factor in the Balkans". The next chance to dent his armour came at the November 1996 municipal elections, which the DS entered as part of an opposition coalition called Zajedno featuring SPO, DSS, and GSS. Democratic Party (at the time with a total of only 7,000 members across Serbia) joined Zajedno against ?in?i?'s personal wishes as he got outvoted on three separate occasions when the decision was discussed internally. Following opposition victories in key Serbian cities such as Belgrade, Ni? and Novi Sad, Milo?evi? refused to recognize the results, sparking three months of peaceful protest marches by hundreds of thousands of citizens. Under pressure, Milo?evi? acknowledged the results and on 21 February 1997 ?in?i? got inaugurated as the mayor of Belgrade.
Later that year ?in?i? made a bold decision to boycott the parliamentary elections on 21 December 1997, thus breaking up the Zajedno coalition.
In 1998, most of the student leaders of 1996-97 street protests (gathered around an organization called Studentski politi?ki klub (SPK)) joined DS. This included leaders such as ?edomir Jovanovi?, ?edomir Anti?, and Igor ?e?elj joined the party.
Milo?evi?'s fall in October 2000 occurred after further street protests. The Democratic Party was the largest party of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia block that won 64.7% of the votes in the December 2000 elections, getting 176 of 250 seats in the Parliamentary Assembly. In 2001 ?in?i? was appointed Prime Minister of Serbia at the head of the first post-Milo?evi? government on 25 January 2001.
At the party conference on 23 February 2004 in Belgrade, Boris Tadi? became president, defeating deputy president Zoran ?ivkovi? (who succeeded ?in?i? as Prime Minister) by a landslide. Getting in alongside new party president Tadi? were new party vice-presidents, Nenad Bogdanovi?, Bojan Pajti?, Du?an Petrovi?, and Slobodan Gavrilovi?.
Tadi? contended in the 2004 Serbian presidential election in the same year, and won it while Democratic party was still in opposition in parliament.
In the 2007 parliamentary election, the coalition surrounding the Democratic Party received 915,854 popular votes or 22.71%, and thus won 64 out of 250 seats in parliament. Three of its seats went to the Sanjak Democratic Party, which formed a club with DS under Du?an Petrovi? as president and Milan Markovi? as vice-president. DS became a part of new parliamentary majority, its members took 11 out of 25 ministerial position, as well as financial minister Mirko Cvetkovi?, who was proposed to that position by this party, although not a member.
Tadi? was re-elected at the 2008 Serbian presidential election.
In the 2008 parliamentary election, the pro-European bloc led by DS received 38.5% of the popular vote, translating into 102 seats in the Serbian National Assembly, making it the largest party bloc in parliament, as well as the leading party in the new majority, with non-partisan Cvetkovic as prime minister. The party also received three seats in the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija, but refused to sit until the situation in Kosovo stabilized.
In the 2012 parliamentary election, the Choice for a Better Life coalition gathered around the Democratic Party received 22.11% of the popular vote, but does not participate in current parliamentary majority. During the same election, Tadi? lost his reelection bid. As a consequence of this, an extraordinary party assembly session was held on 25 November 2012 and Tadi? was replaced as party leader by his main opponent Dragan ?ilas, mayor of Belgrade. Tadi? was, in turn, elected to be the party's honorary president.
At the party conference on 25 November 2012 in Belgrade, then-Mayor of Belgrade and deputy president of the party Dragan ?ilas was elected president. For the first time in the party's history, the number of vice-presidents was increased from 5 to 7, and the function of honorary president was established. The new vice-presidents were Miodrag Raki?, Nata?a Vu?kovi?, Dejan Nikoli?, Vesna Martinovi?, Jovan Markovi? and Goran ?iri?, while Bojan Pajti? was re-elected as vice-president. Boris Tadi? was appointed by acclamation to the new post of honorary president, and Dragoljub Mi?unovi? was re-elected president of the political council.
On 27 December 2012, the party's main board decided that all the ministers who served in the former government should resign as MPs. Most of the former ministers agreed to resign as MPs. Unlike other former ministers Goran Bogdanovi?, Bo?idar ?eli? and Dragan ?utanovac were allowed to stay MPs under the claim that the party needs them in parliament. Milan Markovi? left the party after resigning as MP. Du?an Petrovi? and Vuk Jeremi? refused to give up their parliamentary seats.
Due to their opposition, the party's executive board decided to expel Petrovi? on 31 January 2013, and Jeremi? on 14 February 2013. After the decision to expel him, Jeremi? filed suit at the Constitutional Court, claiming that the party's decision is unconstitutional. After the rejection of the appeal by the Constitutional Court, Jeremi? complied with the decision and left the party but kept his parliamentary seat.
During this period, the party leadership considered that the party should support the current government in resolving the Kosovo issue.
On 30 January 2014, the honorary president of the Democratic Party, former party leader and former President of Serbia Boris Tadi? left the party. He was a member of the party since its re-founding in 1990. Others that followed him were Jelena Trivan, Sne?ana Malovi? and vice-president Miodrag Raki?, as well as a number of MPs and former ministers. They founded a new party called the New Democratic Party.
In the 2014 parliamentary election, the Democratic Party made a coalition with the New Party, Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina, Rich Serbia and United Trade Unions of Serbia "Unity" under the name of "With the Democratic Party for Democratic Serbia". This coalition won 6.03% of the popular vote and 19 MPs, out of which DS received 17. After the end of the parliamentary election, Dragan ?ilas announced an extraordinary party assembly session and ran for re-election as the president of the party. His opponent was deputy president Bojan Pajti?.
At the party conference on 31 May 2014 in Belgrade, then-President of the Government of Vojvodina and deputy president of the party Bojan Pajti? was elected president. Borislav Stefanovi?, Nata?a Vu?kovi?, Goran Je?i?, Maja Videnovi? and Gordana ?omi? were elected vice-presidents, while Dragoljub Mi?unovi? was re-elected president of the political council.
After 2016 parliamentary election, Pajti? was replaced, due to the poor results, since DS obtained fewer number of seats, albeit with a larger number of votes. Party membership voted for Dragan ?utanovac as Pajti?'s replacement. Goran Salak, Branislav Le?i?, Nada Kolund?ija, Tamara Tripi? and Jovan Markovi? were elected vice-presidents.
In the 2017 presidential election, DS opted not to have its own candidate, rather it supported Sa?a Jankovi?, helping him obtain regulatory required number of signatures, campaigned for him, and enabled him to form a rather united opposition front against Vu?i?, as government's candidate. Jankovi? finished second with more than 16% of the vote. After the election, Jankovi? refused to join the Democratic Party, and formed his own political organization. This shattered any ideas of a strong opposition, and left the opposition even more fragmented.
For the Belgrade City Assembly elections, due in March 2018, DS agreed to form a coalition with SDS, a party of DS' former president, Boris Tadi?, who then called for restoration of the Democratic party. However, the party was heavily defeated in the election, and leaders of Belgrade party branch were the first to resign. Soon, ?utanovac and the whole leadership also resigned. On 2 June 2018, Zoran Lutovac was elected new president of the Party.
In May 2019 DS formed a United Democratic Party together with Social Democratic Party and Together for Serbia. Complete integration of these parties should happen in December 2019 on a congress where the new leadership will be elected.
|No.||President||Birth-Death||Term start||Term end|
|1||Dragoljub Mi?unovi?||1930-||3 February 1990||25 January 1994|
|2||Zoran ?in?i?||1952-2003||25 January 1994|
12 March 2003
|3||Boris Tadi?||1958-||22 February 2004||25 November 2012|
|4||Dragan ?ilas||1967-||25 November 2012||31 May 2014|
|5||Bojan Pajti?||1970-||31 May 2014||24 September 2016|
|6||Dragan ?utanovac||1968-||24 September 2016||2 June 2018|
|7||Zoran Lutovac||1964-||2 June 2018||Incumbent|
|Name||Birth-Death||Term start||Term end|
|Zoran ?ivkovi?||1960-||18 March 2003||22 February 2004|
|Year||Popular vote||% of popular vote||# of seats||Seat change||Coalition||Government|
|Election year||#||Candidate||1st round votes||%||2nd round votes||%||Notes|
|1992||2nd||Milan Pani?||1,516,693||32.11||--||--||Independent candidate; support|
|2002||2nd||Miroljub Labus||995,200||27.96||1,516,693||31.62||Independent candidate; support|
|2003||2nd||Dragoljub Mi?unovi?||893,906||35.42||--||--||DOS coalition; Election declared invalid due to low turnout|
|2008||1st||Boris Tadi?||1,457,030||35.39||2,304,467||50.31||For a European Serbia coalition|
|2012||2nd||Boris Tadi?||989,454||25.31||1,481,952||47.31||Choice for a Better Life coalition|
|2017||2nd||Sa?a Jankovi?||597,728||16.35%||--||--||Independent candidate; support|
Major positions held by Democratic Party members:
|President of Serbia||Years|
|Prime Minister of Serbia||Years|
|President of the National Assembly of Serbia||Years|
|President of the Government of Vojvodina||Years|
|Mayor of Belgrade||Years|
|President of the
United Nations General Assembly