The Serbian president consolidates his power despite protests and accusations of election fraud

The Serbian president consolidates his power despite protests and accusations of election fraud

The rerun of Serbian municipal elections was celebrated on June 2, as the second attempt to reconduct elections marred by evidence of fraud half a year ago. It is an election expected to be decisive by both social movements and dissident parties from Aleksandar Vucic’s authoritarian government.

On that first election night on December 17, young people from the provinces, who had not accepted the national results, pinned their hopes on the municipal elections in Belgrade. The national elections, held simultaneously with the municipal elections, were considered lost, and a victory in the capital could mean a first step towards long-awaited political change after seven years of rule by Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party. The National Socialist Party gained a majority in the national elections, but in Belgrade, it received less than 40% of the popular vote, compared to about 35% for the Coalition of Serbia against anti-regime violence.

Anger over the “stolen votes” developed into daily protests, led by hunger strikes by opposition politicians who demanded the elections be canceled and repeated.

Without waiting for the audit to end, dozens, and soon hundreds, gathered in front of the offices of the Electoral Commission in Belgrade, chanting “Thieves!” Anger over the “stolen votes” developed into daily protests, led by hunger strikes by opposition politicians who demanded the elections be canceled and repeated. The demonstrators sought to denounce voting irregularities, such as voter coercion, intimidation of public sector workers, and tampering with the electoral register. In particular, they accused Aleksandar Vucic’s regime of mobilizing 40,000 non-resident voters on buses from Republika Srpska (in Bosnia) to decide decisively on the election results in the capital.

See also  Environmental alarmists denied: greenhouse gases are declining in Europe

Protests are expected to intensify in the run-up to Christmas, especially after the Supreme Court of Justice rejected the fraud charge. On the sixth consecutive day of protests, demonstrators attempted to reach Belgrade City Hall and set up a barricade. Riot police repelled demonstrators with batons and tear gas, causing several injuries – including members of the opposition – and the arrest of at least 38 people.

In subsequent mobilizations, the Loita Youth Organization and student groups coordinated sieges in front of several state ministries and set up a camp in one of the city’s main arteries. These measures, called “meaningful blockades”, were intended to interrupt the normal functioning of the capital’s institutions.


Oyster vs. authoritarian girl

The post-election mobilizations precede a long series of outcries against the authoritarian shift since Vucic came to power. In recent history, it dates back to late 2021, with the popular response to extractive policies after the government granted the multinational Rio Tinto the right to explore and exploit lithium. Essential material for “green transition”. The protests, which lasted for five months, ended with the project being stopped and Rio Tinto fleeing. This was the first major setback for Vucic’s increasingly authoritarian government and its neoliberal model.

Two shooting incidents that shook the country in the spring of 2023 were identified by social movements as symptoms of the general situation the country is experiencing.

Two shooting incidents, which shook the country in the spring of 2023, were identified by social movements as symptoms of the general state of the country, and brought protests back to the streets. The Serbian Coalition Against Violence (SPN) was born from these protests and knew how to translate them into a political union. The struggle against “state violence” has become a broad and sometimes abnormal meeting point between left-wing parties, national minorities and those close to European ideas.

See also  Resentment against Sanchez

During the 1990s, Vucic, who was then and until 2008 an active member of the far-right Serbian Radical Party, was politically involved in the war in Bosnia. Later, he became Minister of Information under Milosevic, who was famous for expelling foreign journalists and suppressing independent journalism.

Vucic’s return to the political frontline means a lack of multiplicity of information, an increase in corruption cases and a push into criminal networks, a fact that can be linked to the shootings on Kosovo’s northern border last year.

In recent months, after the 2023 elections, political tensions have intensified. Although the re-election on June 2 was due to a failed attempt to form a government in the face of an opposition siege, the protests played a decisive role. In the political sphere, this was reflected in attempts to reform and internationalize the electoral law, which led to the delay of the elections. Originally, they were called at the end of April.

However, during this period, the opposition was divided between calls for a boycott, demands for another postponement until the fall to deepen reforms and avoid legitimizing the current electoral process, and an opposition split between Trim Belgrade (BB) and the BB. Towards Change (KP).

Although the re-election was due to a failed attempt to form a government in the face of an opposition siege, the protests played a decisive role.

An examination of the votes on the night of June 2 indicates that voters who were dissatisfied with the reforms decided to support the boycott with a participation rate of 46%, in the face of the real danger of experiencing illegitimate elections again, as the indicators are widespread. Fraud was also recorded.

See also  US media: Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine with 175,000 soldiers

The night of June 2 leaves the opposition divided according to strategy, which nevertheless managed to add up to 30% of the vote. SNS won by an absolute majority. The system comes out stronger. Consequently, a fragile institutional scenario is shaped by opposing forces.

Although there is a healthy dose of pessimism, it seems that there is still strength and hope for change in the streets. The protests of recent years, with unprecedented participation since the overthrow of Milošević in 2000, have managed to consolidate some gains against the agenda of the Vucic government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *