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Reporters on the Job

Getting out the vote in Belgrade: Beth Kampschror, who traveled to Serbia last week, says that she is always amazed at how engaged young people are in the political process.

"I was at a friend's house, talking with two young men. They were having an animated conversation about the constitution, and whether they would vote," Beth says.

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Beth notes that people can either go to vote no, or stay away, hence the debate. One issue was whether the turnout would surpass 50 percent, the threshold for having the vote count. "I was skeptical, but they weren't. So I made a friendly bet that I would prevail, and they wouldn't."

Unfortunately for Beth, the latest figures are indicating a probable turnout of about 70 percent. "It looks like I lost," she says.

Beth says that in the run-up to the referendum this weekend, there are election posters everywhere. "It seems the government is very keen to get out the vote and get this passed," she says. "There were huge signs, with huge Cyrillic letters, plastered all over the place. The slogans were things like 'A good constitution for the good of Serbia.' "

Beth says the city was also showing distinct signs of gentrification, perhaps driven in part by political considerations.

"There's this referendum of course, and there is supposed to be another election this winter. So the ruling coalition is throwing money at public works. New roads are going in everywhere. You get stopped for road construction a lot – but that was badly needed, and so people aren't too upset about it."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor


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