The so called "native" Vojvodina forces have been marginalized even in Vojvodina. They have no representatives in the parliament of Serbia. The other political forces only mention Vojvodina when it is necessary to take a stand against or for. The opponents are in no hurry to abolish Vojvodina. The proponents are aware that there is no point discussing unachievable.
The Vojvodina Block was at one point a coalition of Vojvodina Reformists (RV), led by Miodrag Isakov, League of Social-democrats of Vojvodina (LSV) led by Nenad Canak, and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM, led by Joszef Kazsa. In the past the now forgotten Dragan Veselinov's People's Farmers Party also cooperated with them. The first two were de facto swept off the political scene after last year's provincial and municipal elections. In the provincial Vojvodina parliament the LSV has 7, and reformists 2 representatives. The biggest political party representing the Hungarian minority, which in the past had bad experiences with the aforementioned duo, was forced to seek partners in Belgrade and support of the government in Budapest. Instead of autonomy for Vojvodina, recently the SVM has been talking about decentralization or regionalization, which implies some sort of territorial autonomy for municipalities with ethnic Hungarian majority. Unofficially, it can be heard that Vojvodina Hungarians will demand for themselves as much autonomy as is given to Serbs in Kosovo.
Canak and Isakov did not have big political parties nor did they have many votes even at the time when two thirds of Vojvodina residents supported the autonomy wider than that enjoyed by province today. They were created and kept on the surface by the media. Since Canak is more skilled in exploiting the media, more as an entertainer than a politician, he may still impress some as a politician with a future. After his fiasco in the election for the mayor of Novi Sad, Isakov realized that it was best for him to abandon politics. No one dares suggest the same to Canak. The cooperation between the RV and the LSV was never sincere. Their leaders, like generals, argued who of them should be the chief commander until they lost their armies. The reformists did not benefit from the fact that their leader was a representative in the Federal parliament and deputy prime minister of the government of Serbia. The LSV similarly did not benefit from Canak's tenure as the president of Vojvodina Parliament and from his buddies. On the other hand, obedient individuals benefited substantially. On the eve of the elections Canak put himself at the bottom of the LSV list of candidates, spot number 60. Some interpreted that as a sign that he would retire. But - what a surprise! - Canak somehow won a seat in the parliament and managed to install his secretary general Bojan Kostres in the chair of the president of the Vojvodina parliament. The Serb Radical Party, as the largest party in the Vojvodina parliament has demanded that Kostres be dismissed. Kostres, they claim, does not behave like a speaker of the parliament but as a partisan politician.
Political programs of the pro-autonomy parties were almost identical. The LSV, true, is supposed to be a Social-democratic party. However, given the behavior of its leaders it is difficult to figure out what that is supposed to mean. As far as the internal organization of political parties in Serbia goes, most of them are as rigid as the Serb Radical Party (SRS). The same applies to pro-autonomy political parties. The Reformists never had a chance to demonstrate what reforms they advocated. Their chief preoccupation was to keep the few seats and offices on the provincial and municipal level they had. The RV and the LSV tried to promote themselves as protectors of ethnic minorities. After it became obvious that even Serbs did not vote for them, ethnic minority voters, following the example of the SVM turned towards other political option. Along the way, ethnic minorities realized that by voting for the pro-autonomy parties they could prompt the anger of the Serb Radical Party, which was definitely not something they were looking forward to.
Perhaps, leadership does not deserve all the blame. Blame, if any, will perhaps be discussed within pro-autonomy parties, to the extent they still exist. The LSV initially announced a party congress for December 2004, but that has bow been postponed at least until September 2005. The intent is clear - postpone unpleasant discussion as much as possible. Unofficially, we have learned that the party leadership (President Canak) has dissolved several municipal party organizations that demanded analysis of the results achieved so far. Provincial secretary for agriculture Igor Kurjacki alluded that at the congress, if it ever takes place, he would run for the president of the LSV. The LSV, through its supporters in the local media, managed to suppress that information. Moreover, Canak's representatives have initiated the procedure for the dismissal of the minister who would like to save the party.
A more interesting question is if someone will again raise the issue of autonomy, or if the issue will slowly be forgotten. According to public opinion polls, about a third of residents of Vojvodina support the autonomy wider than that currently enjoyed by the province. Judging by the current standing of the LSV and the RV, they have no one to vote for. The Vojvodina Movement has announced a new attempt to bring together pro-autonomy forces, this time without self-proclaimed "saviors". This attempt would have some chances for success if it were a true movement and not an organization with a couple hundred members, whose attempts to unify pro-autonomy forces were always in the past abused and betrayed by somewhat larger partners. The call for unification was issued in the press. So far there has been no response.
It seems that the autonomy has been reduced to one significant political force - the Democratic Party (DS). The supporters of autonomy have in the past criticized the DS for being too Belgrade-centered. In other words, the Vojvodina branch of the DS loyally follows the instructions from the leadership of the DS and keeps trying to balance between the advocates of essential autonomy [sic] and those who would like to abolish the autonomy (the SRS and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)). Based on experience, the DS tends to speak out during pre-election campaigns when they can be very radical in their demands. Whenever necessary, former mayor of Novi Sad Borislav Novakovic or the veteran representative in the parliament Gordana Comic knew how to be more radical in their demands for autonomy than Canak. The current Prime Minister of the Provincial government Bojan Pajtic is less savvy when it comes to media. Unlike his predecessor at the same post, fellow Democrat Djordje Djukic, he does not have allies in Belgrade. Kostunica's DSS is in power in Novi Sad in coalition with the SRS, while it is the opposition in the Vojvodina parliament; Labus' G17 is quite peeved after its failure in the most recent provincial elections. Given all of that it is unnecessary to ask how the government of Serbia is treating Vojvodina. With firm hand: there is no money, we'll talk about the constitution later. The only political force that could do something for Vojvodina is currently between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, the noose is being tightened by Belgrade, and on the other hand the coalition partners, which are necessary but keep pushing the DS from one trouble to another. Therefore, the current DS position is that the current autonomy must not be reduced. If it works in their favor, even the SRS would support that position. They certainly know that many well paid jobs reserved for loyal activists can be secured by winning the majority in the Vojvodina provincial parliament.