Global Independent Analytics
Aleksandar Mitić
Aleksandar Mitić

Location: Serbia

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Post-electoral Serbian drama: How the opposition spoiled Vučić’s landslide

In a bizarre turn of events, Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party, despite its landslide victory, called for a recount, claiming irregularities and pressures from the opposition.

Brussels and Berlin rushed to congratulate Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić for his landslide victory (48%) at the Serbian parliamentary elections, giving his coalition an absolute majority in the 250-seat parliament.  

But their hopes of an unchallenged leader capable of taking decisive steps on the issues of EU integration and Kosovo faded away, as six opposition parties and blocks entered parliament, making Vučić much more vulnerable than before the April 24th poll. 

Faced with pressures from the EU and the IMF on a wide range of issues, from the “normalization” of relations with the Kosovo Albanian secessionist authorities to massive layoffs in the public sector, Vučić had felt the need to widen his already comfortable majority in parliament of 158 seats out of 250.

He thus decided to call early elections in order to achieve as much as a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which would have theoretically given him the opportunity to change the Serbian constitution, one of the key long-term demands from Brussels for Serbia’s entry into the EU, as the current constitution includes a preamble referring to Kosovo as a province of Serbia. It would be fair to note that Vučić has never confirmed he would accept such demands. 

His hopes were premised on a repeat of the 2014 electoral scenario when four opposition parties running separately fell under the 5% threshold. According to the D’Hondt method, which is used in Serbian elections, the opposition votes were thus transferred to the winning party and thus gave Vučić a huge majority.

On Sunday, following first electoral projections, Vučić appeared in public prematurely claiming a historic victory and that the three opposition blocks were – again - under 5%, which would have given him their votes – and a desired two-third majority.

However, as the vote tallying progressed during the night, all three parties appeared to make it above the 5% threshold.

This shocking development became the story of the night: if these results are confirmed, Vučić would not only be prevented from forming a two-third majority, but he would receive “only” 131 seats (spread between his Serbian Progressive Party and a series of coalition partners), just above the 126 seats needed for majority, but down from 158 seats he had before the poll.

In a bizarre turn of events, Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party, despite its landslide victory, called for a recount, claiming irregularities and pressures from the opposition.

The key controversy is over the fate of the pro-Russian coalition of Dveri plus the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), headed by Boško Obradović and Sanda Rašković-Ivić. The two parties have been out of parliament since 2014, but united this time around. They are staunchly against NATO and EU membership, as well as deals with IMF, and signed an agreement with “United Russia” during the electoral campaign.

Following preliminary results, Rašković-Ivić said the “most important thing is that Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party will not have the two-thirds majority in the parliament needed to change the Constitution.”

According to the tally of 98% of the votes, as of April 27th, the coalition was just a few dozen votes above the threshold. If the remaining 2% changes the situation and the coalition falls under 5%, not only would Vučić be able to claim their seats and secure a more comfortable majority, but this would also leave the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) of Vojislav Šešelj as the only pro-Russian opposition party in parliament.

Following the results, Vučić has stated his strategic goal was to have Serbia become a member of the EU while preserving good relations with Russia, a necessary balance given that up to three-quarters of Serbs have expressed their partiality towards Moscow.

Given that three pro-Western opposition coalitions made it into the parliament – obtaining between 5-6% each – this scenario would allow Vučić to pursue his pro-EU agenda more easily.

However, until the final results are in, and we know whether or not Dveri-DSS are “out,” his historic landslide victory is still uncertain at best.

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