The sensation of the early parliamentary elections and local elections in 45 cities in Serbia did not materialize. According to projections, the government coalition around the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and President Aleksandar Vučić will continue to determine politics in the country with a population of 6.7 million.
Vučić, who leads Serbia first as deputy prime minister, then as head of government and since 2017 as president and who often determines the country’s politics single-handedly, had predicted a significantly higher victory after the polls closed than various polls suggested. The government camp controls television channels and newspapers that systematically discredit opposition politicians. In addition, the coalition regularly uses tax money before elections in one-off cash gifts to pensioners, social welfare recipients or students. The populist-autocratic ruling president had effectively organized the election as a plebiscite about himself and declared that he could no longer remain in office if the opposition won the election.
This tactic worked, according to projections from the survey organizations CESID and Ipsos confirm. Accordingly, the ruling SNS would get 46.4 percent in the parliamentary election – that would correspond to 129 seats in the 250-strong parliament, i.e. more than an absolute majority. The current and possible new coalition partners of the SNS, the Socialist Party, could receive 6.7 percent of the vote, which would translate into 18 mandates. According to pollsters, the opposition, of which eight democratic parties ran with the joint electoral list “Serbia without violence”, only got 23.3 percent (64 parliamentary seats). That is far less than polls had predicted.
In the capital Belgrade, too, the change of power from the government camp to the opposition that many expected may not have materialized. In an initial projection, Cesid-Ipsos predicted that the government list would have 38.4 percent (48 mandates), while “Serbia against Violence” would only come in second place with 35.1 percent with 43 mandates. The power in the important capital, not only politically but also financially the center of Serbia, would therefore remain with the Vučić camp. However, the actual outcome of the election will not be announced by the State Election Commission until Monday.
Dozens of election irregularities reported
In any case, it will be questionable how the election result came about. According to the opposition, election observers and independent media, there were irregularities – how extensive remains to be seen. The election monitoring organizations CRTA and CESID reported dozens of irregularities within a few hours. CESID recorded 70 violations at polling stations from nine to eleven in the morning alone. According to their statements, the cars of CRTA election observers were attacked with baseball bats at one point.
Opposition politician Peđa Mitrovic called the election the one with “the largest number of irregularities” ever. Serbs from the Republic of Srpska, which is part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, voted illegally in the election. In Belgrade, the “Arena” sports center served on Sunday as a “center for phantom voters,” i.e. for illegal voting by alleged voters in favor of the government.
The independent television station N1 showed pictures of people from arriving buses saying they had come from Republika Srpska to vote. N1 According to the opposition, members of the State Election Commission of Serbia (RIK) were forcibly prevented from entering the Arena hall. Serbia’s opposition had already claimed months ago that the government was granting residence permits in Serbia to Serbs living in the RS so that they could illegally take part in the election and influence the result in the government’s favor. Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, however, claimed on X (Twitter) that these were legally registered voters.