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3 Mar, 2024 13:18

Serbia to rerun Belgrade election

The decision has come following opposition protests against the results of the vote held in December
Serbia to rerun Belgrade election

A new election will be held in the Serbian capital Belgrade, the city’s acting mayor, Aleksandar Sapic, has said. It follows weeks of protests by the opposition, which has claimed widespread violations during the initial vote, part of local and parliamentary elections, two and a half months ago. Serbian authorities have denied the accusations.

Sapic made the announcement on Saturday, following a meeting of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), of which the acting mayor serves as vice president.

”We have raised the bar [of legitimacy]” by ordering a rerun of the election, he said. “We’ve made a decision to our detriment, but we’re not afraid.”

The acting city head did not announce a date for the new vote, but said that the SNS would start campaigning already on Sunday.

According to Sapic, the contest now is one of the most important in the country’s history and can be described as a “referendum election” because “the choice is between those who defend Serbia and those who are ready to solve the most important national issues in one minute.”

Dobrica Veselinovic, who ran for the opposition ‘Serbia Against Violence’ alliance (SPN), hailed the announcement of the rerun as a “victory for the citizens who recorded and took pictures of fraud, [for the] observers, civil society” and all those against the government of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

”The next step: a joint struggle to improve the electoral conditions,” Veselinovic wrote on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday.

According to official results, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party beat ‘Serbia Against Violence’ by 46.75% to 23.66% nationwide in the parliamentary election on December 17. But in a vote for Belgrade local assembly, neither side was able to win a majority, with SNS and SPN getting 39.93% and 35.39% of the ballot, respectively.

The opposition has been staging street protests since the election, which it claims was marred by vote buying, ballot box stuffing, and other violations. It also accused the government of bringing people from other areas so that they could vote in the capital.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe issued a report suggesting that the vote was “dominated” by Vucic, “which, together with the ruling party’s systemic advantages, created unjust conditions for contestants.”

Serbian authorities have denied the opposition’s claims, with the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic labeling them “unfounded, [and] unsubstantiated.”