Snap Election in Serbia Raises Concerns over Violence and Inflation

Serbians are currently participating in snap elections that are expected to maintain President Aleksander Vucic’s party in power. The Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), led by Vucic, is projected to hold its majority in parliament despite facing tough competition from the Serbia Against Violence coalition in local elections. Formed by opposition parties after two mass shootings in May, which resulted in significant demonstrations against Vucic and the SNS, the Serbia Against Violence coalition accuses the ruling party of promoting a culture of violence through its rhetoric and media alliances. In addition to these challenges, Serbia grapples with high inflation, reaching 8% in November.

The European Union (EU) and the United States pressure Vucic to normalize relations with Kosovo. As a candidate for EU membership, Serbia’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence since 2008 is a contentious issue. While Kosovo has obtained recognition from over 100 UN members, Serbia is supported by countries like Russia, China, and five EU members who oppose recognizing Kosovo. Furthermore, Serbia has declined to impose sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Although the SNS has held power since 2012, this marks the third election in the past three years. Vucic expressed his optimism for a high voter turnout and a clear victory for his party. On the other hand, the Serbia Against Violence alliance, in favor of the election, aims to bring about significant changes in Serbia, including combating crime, corruption, and skyrocketing prices. The battle for the capital of Belgrade is particularly important, as it holds strong symbolic significance and represents the only location where the opposition stands a good chance of winning.

Dragan Djilas, former mayor of Belgrade and a key figure in the Serbia Against Violence alliance, stated that “changes in Serbia have begun” and emphasized the determination of the people to live in a normal and peaceful environment. However, concerns remain regarding potential violence, the ruling party’s influence, and economic stability in the face of high inflation. Despite these challenges, the outcome of the snap election will shape the political landscape of Serbia and its relationship with the international community.