Party Games: Hide and Seek with Election Cash

Vladimir Kostic Belgrade, Skopje

Powerful parties in the Balkans are suspected of using proxy donors to fill campaign war chests with cash from secret sources. How authorities respond is a test of their independence.

Protesters in Belgrade express anger at what they see as increasing authoritarianism in Serbia after a presidential election in April 2017 marred by allegations of corruption. Photo: Beta

At first, they asked nothing in return.

A local member of Serbia’s ruling party had helped her get a job as a teacher. She knew plenty of others who had found work at public institutions or companies run by people with ties to the Serbian Progressive Party. No shame in that, especially with unemployment rates approaching 15 per cent.

As presidential elections drew near in the spring of 2017, the party invited her to weekly meetings. Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s thenPrime Minister, was the Progressives’ combative candidate for head of state.

Victory would hand his party its fourth straight win in presidential and parliamentary polls over six years and further cement Vucic’s position as the most powerful man in Serbian politics.

 

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