Serbia to hold snap general and local elections on December 17

Serbia to hold snap general and local elections on December 17
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced snap elections and the dissolution of the parliament. / Serbian Presidency
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje November 1, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic signed a decree on November 1 dissolving the parliament of Serbia and announcing extraordinary parliamentary elections to be held on December 17.

The decision follows months of pressure from opposition parties, who have been pushing for early elections since a school shooting in Belgrade claimed the lives of students and a security guard in May. This was followed by another mass shooting the very next day, leading to a wave of weekly protests. However, it is anticipated that the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), until recently headed by Vucic, will secure victory once more in the upcoming election due to the weak opposition.

Vucic announced the elections after after the Serbian government formally proposed the dissolution of the National Assembly on October 30, with Vucic confirming the snap elections on October 12.

In addition to the parliamentary elections, local elections are set to take place on the same day in 65 cities and municipalities in the country, as announced by the speaker of the parliament, Vladimir Orlic.

The electoral activities will commence immediately following the publication of the decision in the Official Gazette.

In his address after announcing the elections, Vucic emphasised the importance of unity in the face of global challenges.

He acknowledged the difficult times the world is currently navigating, marked by global conflicts and regional issues and stressed the need for Serbia to preserve peace and stability.

"This campaign is an opportunity to present in a civilised way different ideas, programmes, policies that should compete, but which will never threaten our vital state, people's and national interests," Vucic said.

The most recent parliamentary elections were held in April 2022.

Vucic has since relinquished his role as the head of the governing conservative SNS but remained a member. Subsequently, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Milos Vucevic was chosen as the new party president in May 2023. However, Vucic maintains a strong affiliation with the ruling party.

The SNS has been the predominant force in the political landscape for over a decade. Following Vucic’s resignation from the party's top position, he revealed the formation of a new movement called the People's Movement for Serbia, with aspirations for it to encompass a wider scope than the SNS.

The primary challenge facing the incoming government will be to seek a lasting resolution to the Kosovo issue. In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia, a move that Belgrade has steadfastly rejected, refusing to acknowledge its former province as an independent nation. Recently, European Union officials openly urged Belgrade to de facto recognise Kosovo.