Serbia’s ruling party eyes a landslide victory

Serbia’s ruling populists of President Aleksandar Vucic’s party looked set to tighten their hold on power in the parliamentary election on Sunday, news wires reported. The vote is taking place despite the spread of coronavirus in the Balkan country and a partial boycott by the opposition.

Nearly 6.6 million voters were eligible to cast ballots for Serbia’s 250-member parliament and local authorities in the first national vote in Europe amid the virus outbreak. The election, initially planned for April but postponed because of the pandemic, comes as Serbia is still reporting dozens of new cases daily after completely relaxing its strict lockdown rules. Health authorities provided face masks, gloves and sanitizers at the polling stations.

President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party appears set for a landslide victory, facing little challenge from the divided opposition. “For the last four years, we really gave our utmost so I hope that today Serbian voters will come out and confirm that they are satisfied with our work,” Serbian PM Ana Brnabic said at a voting station in Belgrade. “I hope people will today give their trust to President Aleksandar Vucic and his team.”

Citing lack of free and fair conditions and danger to public health, several main opposition groups are boycotting the vote. But a number of smaller parties have decided to run, saying the boycott would only sideline an already marginalized opposition.

Vucic, who says he seeks European Union entry for Serbia, has called on his supporters to vote in large numbers to get a strong mandate for internationally mediated peace negotiations on the future of Serbia’s breakaway former province of Kosovo. A US-brokered Kosovo-Serbia summit is to he held in Washington on 27 June, while EU officials have announced plans to restart Brussels-mediated negotiations.

 

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