By Sasa Dragojlo
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday announced that early parliamentary elections will be held in April 2022, even though a new government has still has not been formed following the June 2020 elections.
After a session of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party presidency, Vucic said the new government, which has yet to be formed, will be of limited duration, adding that new elections will be held on April 3, 2022 at the latest, jointly with regular presidential elections. Local elections in the capital Belgrade will also be held that year, presumably at the same time as the presidential and parliamentary elections.
A political scientist from Belgrade, Vujo Ilic, told BIRN that it looked like a tactical move to strengthen his democratic legitimacy in the country and abroad after it was shaken by an opposition boycott in the June elections.
“By calling early parliamentary elections the ruling party will control the agenda, and, by joining it with presidential polls and the politically uncertain Belgrade city elections, it will ensure itself an electoral advantage … after the boycotted elections, which were criticized for lack of legitimacy in Serbia and abroad,” Ilic told BIRN.
The announcement was on one level a surprise since the coalition gathered around the Serbian Progressive Party won an overwhelming victory in June, winning over 60 per cent of votes cast.
The opposition parties and blocs mostly boycotted the elections, and only two other lists entered the parliament: the SNS’s junior partner, the Socialist Party of Serbia, SPS, and newly formed Serbian Patriotic Alliance, SPAS, led by a former water polo player, Aleksandar Sapic.
Vucic then said that both the SPS and SPAS would be part of the ruling coalition. The constitutional deadline for forming a government expires on November 3. After that, Serbia will not have any opposition parties in the parliament.
“It is important to jointly participate in the creation of something that we believe is a good future for Serbia,” Vucic told the media on Monday evening.
Foreign Minister and SPS leader Ivica Dacic after many years will not have a position in the new government, but will instead be president or speaker of parliament, Vucic added. The SPAS will have one ministry in the new government.
“We respect the strength of SPS, we did some good jobs for our country together. Dacic will have a lot of work as a head of parliament,” President Vucic said.
Ilic said forming a so-called “government of unity” was not really justified by the scale of the national emergency created by COVID-19, nor does it include any real opposition political forces, which are not represented in parliament.
“It is just another way to diffuse the responsibility of the ruling party … before the upcoming elections in 2022,” Ilic told BIRN.
The Belgrade city elections is seen by many as the next opportunity to strike at Vucic. The opposition boycott of the June parliamentary election was strongest in Belgrade, where the turnout of just 35 per cent laid bare popular dissatisfaction in the city with the Progressives.