After winning the Presidential elections on 2 April in the first round, Aleksandar Vučić assumed the office of President of Serbia on 31 May, one day after his resignation from the post of Prime Minister. Vučić has previously led the government of Serbia since 2014, pursing the path of European integration, but at the same time attracting strong criticism for his firm-hand style of governance at home. The important question is how will the Aleksandar Vučić presidency affect the state of democracy in Serbia and the European path of the country.
According to Marko Kmezić, professor at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz and member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG), “Vučić will continue with earlier practice of strong Presidents (i.e. Milošević and Tadić) based not on his Presidential mandate but rather on his rule over the strongest political option in Serbia.”
Kmezić does not expect any major changes in Serbian policies towards the EU and no major improvement with regard to backsliding of democracy. According to him, “current practice will continue, so Serbia will under the new president further consolidate as illiberal democracy incorporating formal procedures and rhetoric of democracy while conserving an undemocratic regime core.”
Regarding the EU accession process, Kmezić belives that “membership talks with the EU will formally continue, but at this point no one really believes that the EU integration process can improve the state of democracy and make negotiating countries stable future members.” Therefore, he expects that in the future “the EU and its member states will be more vocal when it comes to undemocratic practices in Serbia.”
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