I attended a rally of Šešelj, I got bored!

Crashing into a electoral rally of the Serbian Radical Party sounds like a opportunity to see displays of nationalism. It is actually a pretty unexciting moment, and it tells a lot about the situation of the party.

Oh my bože, it’s Šešelj!

There are cool ways to spend your Sunday afternoon, like visiting picturesque Serbian places such as Vršac, a nice city close to the Romanian border famous for its wine. This was my plan.

Things however started to become awkward when I arrived there. I discovered that an event was about to start: a meeting of Vojislav Šešelj on the main square.

Most of the non SRS fans, at that moment, would have decided to go away. I didn’t (even though I am not an SRS fan)! I am a Balkans freak, and this was an opportunity for me just to see how a rally of the “Duke” looks like, on a pretty voyeuristic way. As a photographer, this was as well an opportunity to take a few pictures that I could sell on stock websites, a good way to finance my tourism in Vršac while making cash out of Serbian nationalism.

Waiting for the one man show — Photo: J.Cid

But what to get from a speech of Šešelj? Analysing his ideology? Well, rakija and kajmak may have perverted my mind, but not till that extent! I suddenly got another idea, observing the “Duke’s” surroundings, they were more interesting.


In fact, one could not simply listen to a few words from Šešelj that easily. First, you had to pay attention to the speeches of all the other guests of the show. On the stage, actually, around eight people were waiting for their moment: local SRS representatives, and national heads of the party as well. That is the moment the things became interesting, because they were not interesting, and pretty painful to listen to.

That moment when none of your colleagues behind you are paying attention to what you are saying — Photo: J.Cid

This torture session lasted 45 minutes. Each of them coming with a serious issue about public speaking. The representative of the Romanian minority of Vršac was apparently not very confident to speak in Serbian nor Romanian. One of the national secretaries seemed to show ethnic hatred to the microphone, judging by the way he was shouting in it. Above all, most of them seemed to be completely scared by the audience, and were just stuck on the desk, reciting again and again the same speech, monotonously.

When even your boss is asleep, it means you got it wrong! — Photo: J.Cid

Finally some action!

Three quarters of an hour later, this was finally the time for Šešelj. The audience, which had progressively fallen asleep, quickly woke up as the speaker called for him. You remember the foul-spoken guy from the Hague, always making uncalled-for jokes? It was over. The speech was calm, precise, argumented, balanced. Šešelj likes to speak, and he did it that time pretty well. I am actually a bit disappointed: I wanted to see clownery, I first got bored, and then an everyday normal politician show.

This time, everybody listens — Photo: J.Cid

What’s after?

Photo: J.Cid

What to draw as conclusions from this “show” ? That the party is centred around Šešelj? Well, I’m pretty sure you didn’t need me to discover this, just get a look at the SRS posters!

Actually, it shows something more interesting about the party’s situation: the party is centred around Šešelj because he is the only person capable of advocating for its ideology, the other ones do not show the rhetorical skills nor vision to replace him. As the “Duke’s” health is deteriorating, it gives another dimension to the party and their displays of power, maybe the last ones before the collapse.

But, wait! A declining leader whose retirement is (unofficially) programmed, whiteout any serious successor to take over the house… Doesn’t it remind you of something else that happened in the Balkans 40 years ago?

Is Vojislav the new Josip?