Serbian President-elect Vucic delays decision on his successor

Serbian President-elect Vucic delays decision on his successor
By bne IntelliNews May 29, 2017

Serbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and First Deputy Prime Minister will lead the country’s technical government for an unspecified period, namely until outgoing Prime Minister and president-elect Aleksandar Vucic decides who is going to replace him.

As the leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Vucic remains the main decision-maker in Serbia, including on the choice of his replacement, even though as president he does not automatically have the right to nominate the prime minister. 

There is speculation within Serbia that Vucic is trying to find a “new Mirko Cvetkovic”, a prime minister who be content to have the title but no true power. Cvetkovic was prime minister under former President Boris Tadic, who was the main decision-maker during this time — as Vucic is expected to continue to be after he is inaugurated. Another option would be to hold another round of early elections. 

Leaving the public guessing is nothing new for Vucic or the SNS, which spent more than a year deliberating on its choice of candidate for the April 2 presidential elections before finally naming Vucic barely a couple of months before the vote. 

"Discussions are still ahead. The day after tomorrow [May 31 when Vucic will be inaugurated] is a very important day for me and I want everything to go solemnly. Then we will have a meeting of the [SNS], that I still lead. Then we will talk to our coalition partners," Vucic said after chairing his last meeting as prime minister, B92 reported.

With no replacement appointed, as first deputy prime minister, Dacic will take over as head of the technical government after Vucic is inaugurated, in line with the constitution. 

Dacic is one of the top three candidates to become Serbia’s next prime minister, according to the Serbian media, and one of the favourites in the country’s betting offices. 

He has expressed his readiness to take on the job, openly saying that “any politician who says they wouldn’t like to be a PM, lies”.

Dacic previously served as prime minister between 2012 and 2014, taking the top job even though the SNS won the 2012 general election. In 2014, however, Vucic called a snap election and with the SNS in a stronger position in the new parliament took over the prime minister position. 

Vucic said on May 22 there are three possibilities: the next prime minister could be someone from the SNS, or Dacic - the president of the SNS’s junior coalition partner the Socialist Party of Serbia, or someone who doesn’t belong to any political party.  

Alongside Dacic, another potential candidate is Minister of Local Self-government Ana Brnabic, who told journalists on May 29 that she will remain in the new government but didn’t want to reveal if she would be the next prime minister. 

Among the other potential names are several SNS officials, former Minister of Justice Nikola Selakovic and the mayor of the second largest town in the country, Novi Sad, Milos Vucicevic.