Social Democratic Party of Serbia
“Social-democrats of Serbia want to correct the injustice created by the great gap between those who have and the have-nots. We stand for the redistributive role of the state which will ensure equality of opportunity. Even our impoverished state must find the mechanisms for enabling the disadvantaged citizens’ access to opportunities for their own benefit and that of the society. In such a society the citizens are in the first place. That is the basic aim of the Social Democratic Party of Serbia.”
From the document “Economic and Social Aims.”
The Social Democratic Party of Serbia (SDPS) is based on the traditional ideas of social democracy – equality, freedom, solidarity and social justice. After a long period of crisis after the collapse of socialism and the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, as in other East European countries, the fear of the Left, associated with the authoritarian regimes, had remained. The Right nationalist parties, with their rigid populist notions, had closed the path towards realistic insights of the conditions and needs of the society. Only in the recent years it becomes evident that any realistic political action must be based on the healthy basis of sustainable economic development and advancement of wellbeing of all citizens of Serbia, with exclusion of privileges.
In Serbia, Social Democracy is an inherent political idea historically deeply ingrained in social reality. In a relatively small society of medium and smallholdings, democracy must be social, in other words, it must take into account and highlight the concern for common problems and needs of the citizens, by enabling redistribution of material means, and further the education of competent citizens who have interest in political processes and participation. Without the social mechanisms and the distributive role of the state, in small societies such as Serbia, there would be no democracy. On the other hand, democratic participation of citizens in the political processes is the basis and condition of the survival of the Serbian political system, making the social democratic idea a profoundly state-building idea – in societies such as ours, the state has legitimacy only if it has the role of safeguarding social justice. Only Social Democracy can guarantee the existence of the legal order and principles which take into consideration interests of all citizens and enable social integration, and through that, overcome the antagonisms which would, in small societies, be dangerous and detrimental for the survival of the society.
Fundamental values of Social Democracy—freedom, equality and fairer redistribution of social resources, i.e. equal access to opportunities—have always been perceived as principles of justice in Serbia. Almost all political movements in the history of modern Serbia have promoted some of the aims which were by nature Social Democratic:
- building a state which has the capacity to look after the common social problems and human needs,
- democracy understood as broad participation of citizens and different social groups in the political decision making process, which supposes regional decentralization and strong local governments, along with popular acceptance of the legitimacy of the political system and respect of the Constitution,
- reduction of irresponsible bureaucracy in the public sector,
- extended compulsory and free education,
- family support,
- social care for children,
- gender equality,
- containment of all types of discrimination,
- implementation of measures for promotion of complete and effective equality, etc.
Apart from these principles, the Social Democratic idea and program in Serbia, in conditions of economic crisis, has its practical justification. The Social Democratic ideology solely can offer a socially acceptable and all embracing way out of crisis, which would take into account interests of the citizens, sustaining the legitimacy of the political system and protection of the functioning of the legal law and order, and responsible performance of the public sector. Social Democratic ideology in Serbiacan facilitate politics with a human face and a fundamental change in the perception that political power is not end in itself, but that citizens are in the first place.
Furthermore, it should be emphasized that the Social Democratic political ideology in the sphere of foreign policy presupposes support for fairer international relations, regional cooperation and support for a Europe based on respect of differences and equality of members. In contemporary conditions, the Social Democratic political ideology in Serbia occupies the centre of the political spectrum, between two types of effectively rightwing approaches – one of which is the unmodified (neo)liberal model which had proven to be unsuccessful in small societies, and the other being extremist ideologies of exclusion and intolerance.