HELSINŠKE SVESKE №05: "Otpor", in or beyond politics Cover Image

HELSINŠKE SVESKE №05: "Otpor", in or beyond politics
HELSINŠKE SVESKE №05: "Otpor", in or beyond politics

Author(s): Vladimir Ilić
Subject(s): Politics, Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Civil Society, Eastern Orthodoxy, Inter-Ethnic Relations, Ethnic Minorities Studies
Published by: Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava u Srbiji
Keywords: Serbia; "Otpor"; movement; resistance; activism; political organisation; socio-political consciousness; Orthodox Church; pro-european orientation; ethnicity; minorities; RS; regime;
Summary/Abstract: The popular movement Otpor (Resistance) is a phenomenon which has left its mark on Serbia’s political stage at the very end of the last decade of the 20th century. Having been established in 1998, it attracted media attention, launched various actions and, especially, grew in numbers and organized structurally at the height of a police crackdown against its members in the spring of 2000. Otpor has played a major part in persuading the ‘silent majority’ to go to the September 2000 polls in order to bring forward the end the neo-socialist regime. Although the full significance of the part played by Otpor can only be assessed on the basis of comprehensive and reliable information about the events and activities leading to the September 24 election results which greatly facilitated the October 5 overthrow, such data as were available fully justify the assessment given above. This study is the result of an empirical questionnaire-type survey carried out in the latter part of October 2000. Irrespective of whether Otpor as such will continue to grow and operate – for the situation has changed radically since its formative days – its organization and the attitudes and frame of mind of its members are a topic which it not without interest. At present, Otpor is highly popular among the general public and is often seen as possessing charismatic attributes. However, it has been pointed out that unreserved praise is sometimes a sign that the recipient is about to perform his swan-song; undivided flattery as a rule is counterproductive in the case of those social actors, especially large political organizations, who are perceived as serious obstacles to groups already controlling large resources of society or at least those who aspire to increase their control of such resources. The absence of any public criticism of Otpor so far may mean that it is regarded as someone who has played his role and is now expected to exit the stage as a relative autonomous political factor; this, of course, does not mean that certain factions and individual members of Otpor may not be recruited by some political parties and other interested organizations. After all, Otpor is still needed as a reserve echelon until the December republican elections in Serbia to throw its weight behind certain political goals such as loosening the grip of the defeated extreme left- and right-wing groupings on these resources, or at least to help the so-called democratic opposition to remain together as the challenge of its political adversaries weakens. However, generally speaking, the absence of any principled opposition to Otpor leads us to the conclusion that its effective influence is less and less; we must bear in mind that the extent of criticism levelled against somebody is a most reliable indicator of his influence on public life. Needless to say, all foretelling is risky; we have all been surprised by events we considered the least likely of a number of possibilities at the time of their prediction. At least we hope that the material presented here will give a true picture of the organization because we believe that it was collected during a period coinciding with the organization’s developed stage.

  • Page Count: 54
  • Publication Year: 2000
  • Language: English