A young man poses as a sleazy, bejeweled politician in a white suit, sitting atop a white horse surrounded by hordes of bodyguards while promising jobs and prosperity to the voters. Luka Maksimovic and his friends started out to have fun, but the young pranksters have become a sensation — and have been elected to office — after finishing second in a local vote in a run-down industrial town in central Serbia. The success of the rookie citizens’ group at last weekend’s election in Mladenovac, outside Belgrade, seems to reflect widespread disillusionment with politicians in crisis-stricken Serbia and the desire for new, young faces still untouched by the corruption that has plagued all aspects of the Balkan country’s political scene.
Maksimovic and his friends said the election outcome surprised them as well. “This is quite a shock. None of us are experienced politicians,” the 24-year-old media and communications student told The Associated Press. “It all started out as a joke. … We wanted to make video clips mocking Serbia’s political scene.”
Maksimovic described his alter ego — Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli — as the worst possible version of a typical Serbian politician: He is loud and dishonest, owns a shady business and obeys no rules. He promises jobs and better lives, but never delivers.
During campaigning, Preletacevic parodied Serbia’s political reality: bare-chested, he saved children from imaginary danger, posed with small animals in his arms, handed out forged university diplomas and promised healthier sandwiches than his opponents.