Since the democratic changes in October 2000, starting with the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic from office and with the election of a new, democratic and reform-oriented government, economic issues started to dominate the political agenda and debates in Serbia.
Even though conventional models of voting behaviour imply strong electoral support of reform-oriented parties, the evidence from the 2003 and 2007 elections shows that, in spite of improved macroeconomic environment and dramatically improved living standards, the anti-reform SRS party was by far the strongest party in 2007.
By regressing election results from 150 municipalities on various economic, social and demographic variables, the authors distinguish whether and to what extent enterprise restructuring and, more broadly, economic transition, influences voting behavior in Serbia.
The main findings are that:
economic variables are mostly statistically insignificant, however, employment in failed companies influenced voting preferences in 2000 and 2007 elections
increased support for antireform parties cannot be explained by enterprise restructuring but rather by demographic factors like age, share of ethnical Serbs in the electoral district, etc.
lack of restructuring and retaining employment in failing firms proves to be a breeding ground for political support for antireformist parties
Based on the results, the authors conclude that incumbent political parties can push forward enterprise restructuring without a significant political risk. The employees of losing enterprises would vote for non-reform political parties anyway.