Sunday, 3 April 2022

Serbia president projected to win second term



By Guy DelauneyBBC News, Balkans correspondent



Image source, EPAImage caption,
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has already started celebrating



Projected results from Serbia’s presidential and parliamentary elections suggest that Aleksandar Vucic and his Progressive Party have both won comfortable victories.


In a joint forecast, the CeSID election monitor and Ipsos polling organisation predict that Mr Vucic will win a second five-year term as president by taking almost 60% of the vote.


Meanwhile, the Progressive Party will maintain their dominance in the National Assembly, securing more than 40 percent of the vote.


Assuming they form their usual coalition with the Socialist Party, they should have a comfortable governing majority.


Mr Vucic said he was “proud” of the “great support of the people” – and described his campaign as “the cleanest and most beautiful in the history of Serbia”.


He listed the priorities for his second term as continuing Serbia’s modernisation, attracting foreign investments and ensuring peace and stability. And he indicated that he would aim to maintain Belgrade’s traditional ties with Moscow, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – while continuing with EU membership negotiations.


“Good relations in the region are the most important thing, but also not breaking ties with traditional friends,” he said.


Opposition parties will be bitterly disappointed with the results. They boycotted the previous parliamentary election in 2020, claiming that government influence over the media made a free and fair vote impossible. Their absence just allowed the Progressive Party to govern unopposed.


So this time a wide range of parties formed a coalition, United Serbia, to offer voters a credible alternative. They promoted a former general, Zdravko Ponos, as their presidential candidate – and hoped he would at least force Mr Vucic into a second round. But he fell a long way short – polling less than 20%.


United Serbia will now form the second largest bloc in the National Assembly – where they will be joined by the new, green-left movement, Moramo. One of the latter’s most prominent members, the environmentalist Aleksandar Jovanovic, questioned why the national election commission had failed to publish preliminary results.


He called on his supporters to “defend every vote on the street” if evidence of voting irregularities emerged. And he said the Environmental Uprising campaign would continue its protests against pollution and lithium mining in Serbia – both of which had become hot topics before the start of the war in Ukraine.


The election commission is set to publish the official results on Monday evening. But it already seems clear that Serbia’s voters have chosen the “peace and stability” which Mr Vucic told them he and his party offer.




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