Serbian Election Fraud: Protests and Controversy

Serbian Election Fraud: Protests and Controversy

Legislative and local elections in Serbia, held last December, have sparked a wave of protests and controversy in the country. Conservative President Aleksandar Vucic, who has ruled the nation for the past decade, is facing accusations of election fraud by the opposition.

These accusations have led to mass demonstrations and demands for the annulment of the elections in the capital, Belgrade. In this article, we will take a detailed look at the circumstances surrounding this political scandal and the implications it has for democracy in Serbia.

Controversial Elections

December elections in Serbia were marked by the tragic event of two indiscriminate shootings that resulted in the deaths of 18 people, including nine minors. These tragic events provoked a climate of tension and discontent in the country, which led President Vucic to bring forward the elections in an attempt to calm the situation.

However, this move only served to encourage the formation of an opposition coalition called Serbia Against Violence (SPN). Although the coalition aspired to rule in Belgrade, Vucic’s party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), won both the legislative elections and most municipalities, including the capital.

Accusations of Electoral Fraud

Since the election results were released, numerous mass protests have taken place in Belgrade in front of the headquarters of the Republic’s Election Commission. Protesters accuse the government of electoral fraud and demand the annulment of the local elections in the capital.

The opposition SPN coalition has filed an appeal with the country’s Constitutional Court in an attempt to challenge the results. Biljana Djordjevic, co-chair of the Green-Left Front party, has denounced the existence of strong evidence of electoral fraud, especially in Belgrade, where she claims that the direction of the vote was changed and an opposition majority was turned into a minority.

According to Djordjevic, the opposition coalition had numerous volunteers to monitor polling stations, but they discovered that fraudulent practices were taking place. He claims that people from other municipalities and even from Bosnia-Herzegovina were gathered at the Stark Arena, a sports hall in Belgrade.

There, the “election tourists” were instructed where to go to vote. Although the Election Commission was alerted, no action was taken and it was claimed that they had no power to intervene.

Election Results and Challenges

In the legislative elections, the Serbian Progressive Party won 129 of the 250 seats in Parliament, with 46.8% of the vote. On the other hand, the Serbian Coalition against Violence (SPN) only won 23.7% of the votes and 65 deputies. However, in the municipal elections in Belgrade, the gap between the two main parties was narrower. SNS won with 39.1% of the vote against 34.6% for SPN. The opposition alliance argues that the difference of less than five percentage points and 41,810 votes was enough to alter the results in the country’s main city, where a quarter of the Serbian electorate lives.

International Relations and Reactions

Aleksandar Vucic has ruled Serbia for the past decade, maintaining close relations with both Russia and the European Union. Despite allegations of electoral fraud, EU authorities have been cautious in their response because of Serbia’s importance in controlling irregular migration and the stability of the Balkans.

However, both the EU and other international organizations have expressed concern over the allegations of irregularities and have called for a transparent investigation.

Civil society in Serbia has also played an important role in exposing election fraud. The Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) has deployed 3,000 observers to monitor the electoral process.

This group has reported illegal voter migration and documented serious irregularities, such as vote buying and violation of the secrecy of the ballot. They have pointed out that the fraud detected is only the tip of the iceberg and have asked for help from nations such as Spain, Germany and France to condemn the authoritarian regime in Serbia and support the struggle for European values.

Conclusion

Elections in Serbia have triggered a wave of protests and controversy due to accusations of electoral fraud. The opposition has denounced illegal voter migration and has filed legal challenges to contest the results.

Internationally, the EU and other organizations have expressed concern and called for a transparent investigation. The situation in Serbia poses challenges to democracy and stability in the Balkan region.

It is essential that democratic principles are respected and that a thorough investigation is carried out to ensure the legitimacy of the election results and restore confidence in the democratic process.