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Serbia Schedules Early Elections for December 17

Serbian President says the country will go the polls in mid-December, to elect a new parliament and authorities in over 60 municipalities, including the capital, Belgrade.

Serbia will elect a new parliament and local authorities in 64 municipalities on December 17, it was officially announced in Belgrade on Wednesday.

President Aleksandar Vucic ceremonially signed a decree dissolving the National Assembly and announcing the extraordinary parliamentary elections.

In mid-October, Vucic said early parliamentary elections would be held. Experts told BIRN that the strategy was for the ruling Serbian Progressive Party’s unpopularity in the capital to be overshadowed by a wider campaign.

Parties that organised several months of weekly protests under the banner ‘Serbia Against Violence’ agreed on October 27 to run a united list of candidates under the same name at the upcoming parliamentary elections and for the simultaneous polls in the capital, Belgrade.

The joint list will include the Freedom and Justice Party of former Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas, the People’s Movement of Serbia, led by Miroslav Aleksic, and the Green-Left Front/Ne Davimo Beograd, which is known for grassroots activism.

It will also include the Srce (The Heart) movement led by Zdravko Ponos, who came second to Vucic at the presidential elections in 2022, the Ecological Uprising, known for leading environmental protests in recent years, the Democratic Party, which led the country before Vucic’s Progressive Party, the liberal, pro-European Movement of Free Citizens and the Zajedno (Together) Party.

Their agreement followed months of weekly protests under the slogan “Serbia Against Violence”, which started after two mass shootings in May.

Right-wing parties that call themselves “the state-building opposition” so far failed to make a deal about jointly going to the elections.

On the same day, elections will be held for the assembly in Belgrade and 64 other municipalities. In many of them snap elections will be held, since their mayors collectively resigned at the end of September.

The Serbian Radical Party’s leader, the convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj, said on Wednesday that his far-right party will run in coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party in Belgrade and other local elections, while in the parliamentary elections it will compete separately. It is not known yet if Seselj will be a candidate at any level.

In early September, several opposition parties called on to Vucic to hold elections for parliament and for the assembly of Belgrade by the end of the year.

Regular local elections were due in June next year. Many expected that spring 2023 would be the time for all elections, including those in Belgrade and parliament, since Vucic had announced in 2022 that the new government would last only two years.

The opposition previously insisted on separated elections in Belgrade and the rest of the country.

The opposition won around 50,000 more votes in Belgrade in last year’s elections than the parties currently in power. However, when those votes were turned into seats, they did not form a majority in the capital, home to around 1.6 million people.

Source : Balkan Insight