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Serbian President Uses Opposition Demand to Announce December Elections

President Vucic’s decision to go for urgent nationwide elections, rather than in Belgrade alone, means his party’s unpopularity in the capital will now be overshadowed by a wider campaign, experts claim.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has confirmed that urgent parliamentary elections, along with local elections in the capital Belgrade and in Vojvodina province, will be held on December 17.

Experts told BIRN that Vucic had turned the opposition demand for elections to his own advantage, hoping to obtain a better result for his ruling Serbian Progressive Party, SNS.

Political analyst Cvijetin Milivojevic said: “Vucic knows the SNS is polling much worse in Belgrade than in general. The opposition at first asked only for elections in Belgrade, where they can win, but after their protests failed, they demanded parliamentary elections as well. This suits Vucic, as now he can join the campaign and cover the issues in Belgrade with a parliamentary campaign.”

Milivojevic said the opposition had a good chance to win in the capital. But he added that the violent incident in Banjska in northern Kosovo on September 24, when a Kosovo policeman and three Serb gunmen died in a shootout, would not hurt Vucic much, given the general global turbulence, especially in Israel/Gaza.

“He hs also avoided bigger problems with his moves toward US … and he had all the right answers in the CNN interview,” Milivojevic said. [In the CNN Interview last week, Vucic denied building up Serbian forces on the Kosovo border and insisted Serbia had no interest in further escalation of the conflict with Kosovo.]

“The opposition calls for [EU] sanctions on him and not Serbia [over the Kosovo violence] is a wrong move. The voters cannot understand the subtle difference, in a situation where Vucic is presented as [the face of the state of] Serbia,” he concluded.

In early September, several opposition parties submitted a request to Vucic to call elections for parliament and for the assembly of Belgrade by the end of the year.

Their call came after months of protests under the slogan “Serbia against violence” that followed mass shootings in May – which did not yield significant results.

The ruling majority led by the SNS did not accept many of the demands submitted by the opposition at the protests that are still ongoing. The opposition has stressed that only way to fulfill the demands of the protesters is to oust the government in elections.

Regular local elections are due in June next year. Many expected that spring 2023 would be the time for all elections, including those in Belgrade and parliament, since Vucic announced in 2022 that the new government would last only two years.

The opposition previously insisted on separated elections in Belgrade and the rest of the country.

The opposition won around 50,000 more votes in Belgrade in last year’s elections than the parties currently in power. However, when those votes were turned into seats, they did not form a majority in the capital,.home to around 1.6 million people.

Source : Balkan Insight