Some build-up expansion on danlowlite's write-up:
The election referred to was called by (then) President Slobodan Milosevic who was apparently looking to solidify his power in the country by holding democratic elections and using his old tactic of fueling fragmentation among the 13 opposition parties in the country, so that, despite widespread opposition, he would emerge a democratically reaffirmed leader of the country.
His fatal flaw was in underestimating three things, all of which are vital to a successful revolt:
- The single-minded unity against him among the opposition.It is unprecedented in this country that all of these groups should lay down their seemingly large disagreements to unify their vote against one thing, in this case Milosevic's rule.
- His own support among the populace. Milosevic had been riding a wave of newfound nationalism in the populace for some time, which he was able to whip up during his attempts to expel the ethnic Albanians living in some parts of the country. He apparently mistook this nationalism for the country he was heading for support for he himself. In this vein, it was very helpful that Vojislav Kostunica also has a reputation as a staunch nationalist - the people are trading a corrupt communist nationalist for a democratically elected nationalist. What this means for the Albanians remains to be seen, though we do know that Kostunica is on good terms with some members of the government who are facing indictment by the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, which Kostunica has spoken against and apparently refuses to recognize.
- The dedication of the police/military. Had they put up a fight in the case of an uprising, Milosevic might have had a much easier time of it. Fortunately for democracy, but unfortunately for Milosevic, even the guys with the guns were fed up with him. One amazing image of the revolution (well, I was listening to it on the radio, but I had a mental image) was of the police partying on the porches of the station with the democratic demonstrators, and giving out their hats and billy clubs as souvenirs.
To say that 'rumors' of war crimes linger isn't completely true . . . Milosevic and some of his entourage have been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. Now that he is not a member of the government, he is fair game for arrest. His rap sheet is pretty gruesome, and the west wants him pretty badly. Russia had been holding talks of deal making to keep him safe from the Tribunal, but even that appears to have fallen by the wayside. The question that remains is if Yugoslavia itself will give him up to face his charges . . . the alleged crimes were committed against an ethnic minority group living in the borders of Yugoslavia during actions apparently supported by the populace. Kostunica has said that he does not recognize the authority of the War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.