Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 23:50 GMT 00:50 UK
Analysis: The battle in Serbia
Anti-Milosevic demonstrations are increasing
By Balkans Analyst Gabriel Partos
The end of the conflict in Kosovo has led to a return to normal politics in Serbia.
But what chance is there for a change at the top?
There is no doubt that Mr Milosevic has emerged much weakened from defeat in the conflict with Nato over Kosovo.
And now that Belgrade has, in practical terms, handed over control of Kosovo to the international community, his Serbian nationalist project has suffered its most catastrophic defeat.
True, Serbian state-controlled media outlets have portrayed the Serbian military withdrawal from Kosovo as a victory.
They have tried to gloss over the plight of Serbian refugees from Kosovo who have now become the victims - albeit on a much smaller scale - of a reverse form of ethnic cleansing.
Continued control over a substantial part of the media is a crucial source of strength in Mr Milosevic's struggle to stay in power.
Network of patronage
There are other important factors of support in the network of patronage that makes up the Milosevic couple's post-communist state.
The mainly-conscript army is under-financed and largely apathetic; but its general command has been repeatedly purged and is packed with Milosevic loyalists.
The opposition has few assets in terms of control over institutions.
But over the past two years - since President Milosevic was forced to recognise the opposition's municipal election victories - it has made inroads into local government.
It can also get its message across - at least in areas where the local media are under its control.
Rallying the masses
However, the opposition's main strength - at least potentially - is its ability to mobilise people to go out onto the streets.
This time the anti-government demonstrations have attracted substantial but not huge crowds.
It may need more time for these protests to gather momentum; and it may also require the focus of a large crowd in Belgrade where the opposition have not yet held a demonstration.
The leader of the centrist Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, has said it will take a couple of months before the protests become an immediate threat to Mr Milosevic.
Need to unite
The Democratic Party is the leading force in the Alliance for Change - an umbrella group that represents the opposition's awareness that, without unity, it has no chance of unseating Mr Milosevic.
For the opposition's challenge to succeed, it would probably need the support of ex-Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic's conservative Serbian Renewal Movement.
But Mr Draskovic and Mr Djindjic have been sworn enemies since their alliance collapsed two years ago; and so far Mr Draskovic has taken a largely neutral position in the emerging challenge by Mr Djindjic to President Milosevic's position.
True, Mr Draskovic has shown signs of support for anti-government demonstrators - but not for those affiliated to the Alliance for Change.
Divided and overruled
His position is also helped by a largely apathetic population that has been demoralised by defeat and worn down by years of economic privation.
But the parlous state of the economy gives the opposition perhaps its best chance for success.
The international community has made it clear that Serbia will receive no reconstruction aid as long as Mr Milosevic and other indicted war criminals stay in office.
If the opposition can get this message across to the people, it may stand a good chance in the battle for power.