By Maja Zivanovic
A monarchist lobby group, the Kingdom of Serbia Association, says it has collected over 120,000 signature of support for the restoration of a king – and plans to submit its petition to parliament soon.
Supporters of the restoration of the Serbian monarchy, abolished by the communists after World War II, have collected over 123,000 signatures of support, which will be submitted to parliament, the Kingdom of Serbia Association said.
The NGO, which operates under the patronage of Prince Aleksandar, the pretender to the throne, launched a petition from November 21 to 27, 2016, and will publish the final number of names after the verification process ends.
“After that, we will submit the initiative to parliament, and in case we have more than 150,000 signatures of citizens with the right to vote, it should lead to an automatic change to the constitution, without a referendum,” the head of the NGO’s Novi Sad branch, Nikola Grbic, said.
Grbic styles himself a lawyer to Prince Peter and Prince Aleksandar, the son of the heir and heir to the throne respectively.
The Karadjordjevic dynasty ruled Serbia and then Yugoslavia during the 19th and 20th centuries with several decades of breaks.
In 1945, the victorious communists under Josip Tito declared a republic in Yugoslavia and the royal family was left in exile.
After the communist system and Yugoslavia collapsed, Prince Aleksandar came back to Serbia in 2001 with his wife. They live today in a former royal palace in Belgrade.
Serbia’s royals used to wield a good deal of political power but Grbic insisted that what they were aiming for now was only a constitutional monarchy.
“The constitutional monarchy means the existence of a system in which the crown … is both above and below policy,” he explained.
Grbic added that the king’s responsibilities would be more like a combination of those that the current President of Serbia and the Ombudsman possess.
“The king would represent all the political parties but also all citizens. He would not be able to interfere in legislative, executive and judicial power but he could contribute to building a lawful state with his criticism or praise,” he said, adding that the crown would be “a cohesive factor of stability”.
Under the current constitution, power is divided between the executive, the legislature and judiciary. The supreme holder of legislative power is parliament.
Grbic noted the kinship of the Serbian royal family to other royal houses, some on the throne, some not. The Prince’s godmother is Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. The Karadjordjevic family also has relations with the dethoned Romanov dynasty in Russia.
According to its official web portal, the association was founded by a group of Belgrade University students in 2008 and was first called the King’s Youth.
Established as a non-profit, non-governmental and non-party organization under the patronage of Prince Aleksandar, it now has more than 18,000 members and around 80 branches throughout Serbia.
The association is planning various awareness-raising activities in the next months, including a friendly football match with a Romanian monarchist association.
According to Grbic, the match will be held on June 11, in honour of the 95th anniversary of the marriage of King Aleksandar of Yugoslavia and his Romanian bride Queen Marie and amid the presence of some Romanian royals.