A generationOutgoing Serbian head of state Alexander Vucic announced a landslide victory in Sunday, April 3, extending his control of the Balkan state for a decade, portraying himself as a guarantor of stability in the shadow of war Ukraine.
“There is no suspense at any time,” he said in his victory speech, congratulating himself on winning his second five-year term with around 60 percent of the vote in the first round. “I’m glad that many people voted and demonstrated the democratic nature of Serbian society,” continued the man, who served as deputy prime minister and then prime minister before becoming president.
Voters were asked to appoint their head of state, their 250 representatives and several city councils, including those in the capital Belgrade. Aleksandar Vucic, 52, said his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS, center-right) won nearly 44 percent of the vote in legislative elections. “We are about to form a government on our own, but together with the Hungarian minority we have enough votes to form a majority,” he added.
However, the ruling coalition should be less dominant than the outgoing parliament. Official results are not expected until Monday evening.
Ukraine war at the heart of the campaign
invasion of ukraine Russia The course of the campaign was changed at the end of February and should have focused on the environment, corruption and rights in the Balkan country of 7 million inhabitants, an EU candidate.
But Aleksandar Vucic, accustomed to wielding influence in the rivalry between East and West, seized the war to its advantage. In a country that has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic as elsewhere, he claims to be the only one able to steer the ship in stormy weather. His campaign slogan was “Peace. Stability. Vucic”.
“The impact of the Ukraine crisis on the elections is huge,” the president admitted. He noted that “Serbia is tilted sharply to the right” as the small pro-Russian nationalist party enters parliament.
Opposition condemns violence
NGOs reported incidents and violence during the polls, while opponents denounced SNS for trying to intimidate voters at polling places. Centre-left opposition leader Pavle Grbovic claims he was attacked by SNS militants while trying to film a fraud in Belgrade.
Aleksandar Vucic has denied any wrongdoing.Serbian KosovoThe former southern province, which Belgrade has never recognised, boarded 40 buses for elections in neighbouring Serbia, where Pristina refused to organise elections on its land. Just a few months ago, the opposition appeared to have made a breakthrough in a country of less than seven million.
In January, Aleksandar Vucic cancelled a controversial lithium project that mobilized tens of thousands of protesters, a rare reversal of his decade in power. The opposition has assured it has made a breakthrough in Belgrade’s municipal elections, but no official results have been obtained.
Serbs ‘not afraid’
“We turned on the lights,” responded Aleksandar Vucic’s chief rival, retired general Zdravko Ponos. “That’s why so many people go to the polls, they’re not afraid. We’re not going to spoil it.” The government has moved cautiously to manage the Ukraine crisis, formally condemning RussiaUnited Nations While avoiding any sanctions on Moscow, many Serbs support the Kremlin war.
Some opposition parties also share these pro-Russian views. Others dared not speak out, for fear of angering pro-Moscow voters. Alexander Vucic went to the polls with other advantages. During his long reign, he tightened his grip on all levels of power, including de facto control over institutions and nearly all media.
Analysts say he enjoys a large electoral base of civil servants and their relatives.