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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
New spirit of openness in Serbia
Young people canvassing
Belgraders are losing their fear of authority
Serbia's reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic's first 100 days in office has been marked with a campaign of openness and transparency on Belgrade's streets.

The campaign is being organised by the youth wing of the Serbian premier's party - the Democratic Party.

The campaign named "Ask the Government of Serbia" was approved by the party's leadership and Mr Djindjic himself.


We want to destroy the taboo that the people in power are untouchable

Democratic Party official

They say they want to show to ordinary people, who lived in fear of the authorities for over 50 years, that they have nothing to fear any longer.

Serbian TV showed stands in Belgrade at which people can fill in forms with their questions, comments and criticism of the government.

It said similar stands would be set up throughout Serbia.

Enthusiasm

It said that if they left their home or e-mail addresses, they would get an answer from the relevant ministries.
Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic
Some city residents want a personal reply from PM Djindjic

Judging by the response so far, the people have welcomed the opportunity with enthusiasm. To everyone's surprise, most of the questions have been signed.

One of the organisers of this action, Democratic Party youth wing official Milan Kamponeski, told BBC News Online that the typical reaction was: "I want them to answer me personally".

"I asked him [Mr Djindjic] when he will ask his people instead of the West how the government is working," one woman told the radio station B92.

I asked him about a referendum on the restoration of the monarchy

Man in the street

"I asked him when agriculture will be revived, then about autonomy for Vojvodina and changes to the Serbian constitution and about a referendum on the restoration of the monarchy," another person said.

Destroying taboos

Democratic Party youth wing official Milan Raskovic explained: "We do not want to pull the wool over people's eyes, but to see what they think, what their needs are."

The forms contain questions for the politicians
"I asked the PM about constitutional changes"
"We want to destroy the taboo that the people in power are untouchable," Mr Komponeski added.

He said that it was important that the party, which helped lead anti-Milosevic street protests, stayed in touch with its street roots.

The other idea behind this street poll is to filter through people's questions, comments and criticisms to the relevant ministries and the premier, so that they can be acted on.

The officials said they were convinced that the poll was not an empty gesture.

Pledge

Older people filling in forms
"I want my views known"
One of the election promises of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia was a greater openness and a new style of government.

The Serbian media have made much of this theme as they mark Mr Djindjic's first 100 days in office.

The youth wing's street campaign wants to reinforce this message.

Mr Kamponseki said he thought Prime Minister Djindjic would welcome the idea and that the findings of this poll would influence his thinking.

"We want a two-way communication about the government's work," he said.

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26 Jan 01 | Europe
Serbia squares up to challenges
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