Serbian polls close in snap election called by Vucic

Serbian polls close in snap election called by Vucic
# 17 December 2023 22:29 (UTC +04:00)

Serbians have voted in snap elections that are forecast to keep President Aleksandar Vucic's party in power, APA reports citing BBC.

Polls closed at 20:00 (19:00 GMT), and his Serbian Progressive Party is likely to keep its majority in parliament.

But opposition parties campaigning under a Serbia Against Violence banner are hoping to challenge his party in local elections, in the capital Belgrade in particular.

Election officials put the turnout at 51.93% with two hours of voting to go.

The SNS has been in power since 2012 but there have been three elections in the past three years. President Vucic said on Sunday that he expected "a good turnout and a decisive victory".

The loose opposition alliance was formed after two mass shootings in May which sparked huge protests. The attacks killed 19 people, including 10 at a school in Belgrade.

The protests grew into demonstrations against President Vucic and his SNS party.

Opposition parties said the massacres reflected a culture of rhetorical and physical violence promoted by the ruling party and its allies in the media.

Serbia is also struggling with high inflation, which hit 8% in November.

Serbia is a candidate to become a member of the European Union, and President Vucic is under pressure from both the EU and the US to normalise relations with Kosovo.

Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008, and while it is recognised by more than 100 UN members, Serbia has refused to do so - backed by allies like Russia, China and five EU members.

Serbia has also declined to impose sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

If the loose Serbia Against Violence opposition coalition does succeed in winning power in Belgrade's city council, commentators say it would give them a big boost and undermine the position of President Vucic and his party.

Dragan Djilas, a leader of the coalition and a former Belgrade mayor, told Reuters news agency that "changes in Serbia have begun."

"People are determined to live... normally without crime and corruptions, without prices going wild."