BELGRADE – Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has officially called snap parliamentary elections for 17 December. Earlier today, the Speaker of the now-dissolved National Assembly, Vladimir Orlić, called snap elections in 65 cities and municipalities in Serbia, including the capital.
Regular local elections were scheduled for June 2024. In late September, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party’s mayors resigned in about half of the municipalities, mostly those where the party is expected to perform strongly, so that the elections could be held six months earlier. The elections in the other half of municipalities will, apparently, be held in June.
Before September, the majority of the commentators expected the early parliamentary election to take place in June 2024, together with local elections. The announcement that they would be held in December was unexpected, and the motivation of the ruling party has still not been fully clarified.
In his statement, Vučić wished the citizens “happy elections”, stating that “we live in challenging times for the whole world, in a time of global conflicts, in which Serbia will be under numerous pressures due to Kosovo and other regional issues”.
He added that it is essential for Serbia to preserve peace and stability, as well as internal cohesion, and demonstrate its full democratic character.
On Monday, the Government of Serbia sent a proposal to the President to dissolve the National Assembly. As stated by the government, holding a new parliamentary election in the existing circumstances would ensure a higher degree of democracy and reduce tensions between opposing options in society.
On 11 September, a group of opposition parties, organizers of “Serbia against violence” protests demanded holding snap parliamentary and Belgrade elections by the end of this year. On 27 September, a few days after Banjska attack in Kosovo, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić announced that the government would meet the opposition’s demands and schedule elections.
Large protests throughout Serbia began in May of this year after mass shootings from 3 and 4 May. Among the opposition’s demands were the resignation of responsible government officials, banning the media content promoting the violence, and the dismissal of members of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM). Even after 26 consecutive protests, the government did not meet any of the opposition’s demands.
Most of the commentators, however, agree that, given that the ruling coalition has not lost its majority, the decision to call early elections was based on strategic considerations of SNS.