snap presidential election

The speaker of the Serbian National Assembly announced on the 2nd of March that a snap presidential election would be held on the 2nd of April. If needed, the second round of voting is planned for the 16th of April. Read more about the structure and landscape of Serbian politics in the run up the Presidential elections.

The Snap Presidential Election:

Due to the short-term nature of this election, candidates have had a mere thirty days to campaign. The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) have placed the spring session of parliament on hold until the Presidential election results are released. While within their rights, opposition parties have claimed the SNS are abusing their power in parliament to diminish the voice of their opponents.

These will be the eleventh presidential elections since they were introduced in 1990, although having a snap presidential election is not the norm.

Serbia has been troubled by issues of corruption and election fraud and is attempting to ensure that their elections are in line international, and more crucially EU, standards. This election will be partially supervised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe but will be missing a number of other observers due to the short-term nature of the election.

Government Structure:

The seat of the Presidency is the Novi Dvor – or New Palace (pictured above). It was a royal residence up until 1934, becoming a museum until 1948 whereupon the royal complex was transformed into the seat of the Republic.

The Serbian people elect both their legislative and executive branch of government. The National Assembly is made up of 250 members, serving four-year terms. A party must receive at least 5% of the national vote for seats to be allocated. Parties which represent minorities only have to reach 0.4% to be allocated seats.

The President is responsible for announcing parliamentary elections, who are in turn responsible for announcing presidential elections. MPs are elected using proportional representation – with a fixed list system.

Going to the Polls: Who to choose?

Aleksandar Vucic is the dominant figure in this Presidential election. He is currently the Prime Minister in the in-government Serbian Progressive Party. In the 2014 Parliamentary elections, his party won an overall majority, comprising 48.35% of seats (158). Aleksandar Vucic’s short election campaign has been criticised for dominating news coverage by Transparency Serbia. He is widely recognised as the favorite for the presidency, being both popular among the people for providing stability in a difficult time and region.

The Serbian Progressive Party is a centre-right party with ideals of populism and conservatism. They are currently the largest party in the country and are favourites for the election. The incumbent president, Tomislav Nicolić, would be eligible to run for re-election but has opted not to under pressure from his party who are supporting the PM Aleksandar Vucic.

Other Candidates:

  • Luka Maksimović – Originally running as a joke candidate running on a satirical platform. They won around 20% of the vote coming second in local municipal elections. As an independent candidate, he is tipped by opinion polls to receive around 10% of the vote.
  • Vuk Jeremić –  He is the former minister of foreign affairs as well as president of the 67th session of the UN general assembly. He is now running as an independent and tipped to gain around 10% of votes
  • Saša Janković – He is a former Ombudsman as well as lawyer and human rights activist. He resigned from his post in order to run for the presidential election as an independent. Similarly, he is forecast to receive between 7-11% of the vote
  • Vojislav Šešelj – Founder and president of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), he is a far-right politician. His election platform is pro-Russian, eurosceptic and anti-Islam.

The other candidates running in the presidential snap election are Miroslav Parović (National Freedom Movement), Saša Radulović (Enough is Enough), Boško Obradović (Dveri), Aleksandar Popović (Democratic Party of Serbia), Milan Stamatović (Independent), Nenad Čanak (League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina). These candidates are each expected to receive around 3% of the vote.

The Importance of this election:

Despite the fact that it is a snap presidential election, it could be crucial for Serbian and regional stability. Serbia is in the candidacy stage of becoming a member of the European Union and is undergoing structural changes. In the last election, the government received renewed legitimacy to continue their efforts at reform. They are privatizing publicly owned businesses, encouraging FDI and attempting to tread a careful balance between Russia and the EU.

It would, to a large degree, be a surprise if Aleksandar Vucic lost this election. Under the SNS, Serbia has seen increased economic growth, increased employment and a reduced national debt.

We will post the result of the presidential snap election on Monday, when the results are announced.