Interest in this event, or rather a political phenomenon, seems to have stemmed from our organization members’ education in the field of political science. Monitoring the process of electing the most powerful political actor of the most powerful country in the world is, in fact, not a matter of choice for political scientists.
That is why, for us, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, every fourth year, is the day awaited impatiently, and analyses, projections, and discussions begin as early as 18 months before the November day.
Center for Social Dialogue and Regional Initiatives was officially established in May 2010, while the core of ideas (and people) behind this organization lasts much longer. So, somewhat strangely, our organization followed the elections even before it was founded. Of course, the organization consists of people who are ready to preserve and defend a certain idea, while registration is only the final act of its entry into the state legal system. So, CSDRI began following the presidential elections in the spring of 2008. On Kopaonik, in ’Rtanj’ hotel, the first, some would say traditional, Regional Seminar of Political Scientists was organized.
We followed the 2012 elections, the famous Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clash, by organizing, together with the Center for America Studies, the Regional Political Scientist Seminar on Kopaonik. The seminar was opened by the then Ambassador of the United States to Serbia, Michael Kirby. The speakers at the seminar were Charles Kegley, Gregory Raymond, Dragan R. Simić, Dragan Živojinović, and other experts in the field of American studies. On the night between November 6 and 7, we organized live election results following, with live online joining of guests from Washington, London, and Brussels.
2016 US Election
Four years later, we were striving for higher goals. With the help and support of the United States Embassy in Serbia, the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the USA, and the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade, we conducted a ten-month project of monitoring the US elections.
In the election race where the establishment of the Republican and Democratic parties met with completely atypical and tenacious candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and did not know how to respond to them, we tried to inform the public in Serbia and the region about key characteristics of the United States electoral system.
We did it through the web portal americkiizbori2016.rs, an insert in the ‘Danas’ daily, a series of lectures in Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, and Kragujevac, and frequent media visits by the CSDRI team.
For the narrow, professional public, we organized a summer school ‘American Elections and Pop Culture’ and the inevitable – traditional – Regional political scientist seminar.
Together with the Center for American Studies, we published a ‘Glossary of the U.S. Presidential Elections’, which contained a list of key terms for the U.S. presidential elections and the works by students at Clemson University (South Carolina) and the Faculty of Political Science.
The peak of the project took place on the night between November 8 and 9, when, together with more than 800 members of the academic, social and political elite, we watched Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential elections.
It should be noted that the guests of the ‘Crown Plaza’ hotel that night, also unexpectedly, voted for Hillary Clinton. Who knows how many times since the beginning of the 1990s, and probably even earlier, Serbia chose the wrong side.
2020 US Elections
We started monitoring the 2020election cycle in October 2019, and we will end it after the first 100 days of the new or old president (end of April 2021).
We are again conducting activities with the support of the United States Embassy in Serbia and the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the USA. This time, apart from the presidential elections, we are focused on the elections for the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the governors of the federal states.
Perhaps most important of all, this year more than 20 pearls are working with us on the project, students of the Faculty of Political Sciences, who with their talent, knowledge, and perseverance ‘threaten’ to surpass their mentors. We sincerely wish they achieve it.