Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Serbs vote in triple election set to keep populists in power

BELGRADE, SERBIA (AP) – Long lines formed in front of polling stations in Serbia yesterday as voters cast ballots in a triple election that was projected to keep in power a populist government which has refused to impose sanctions on Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Some 6.5 million voters are choosing the president and a new Parliament, as well as local authorities in the capital, Belgrade, and over a dozen other towns and municipalities.

Opinion surveys ahead of the vote have predicted that President Aleksandar Vucic will win another five-year term and that his right-wing Serbian Progressive Party will yet again dominate the 250-member assembly.

But opposition groups stand a chance of winning in Belgrade, analysts said. This would deal a serious blow to the populists’ decade-old unchallenged rule in Serbia.

Opposition groups said yesterday multiple irregularities were spotted during the vote and that the ruling party was ready to use violence to prevent an opposition victory. An opposition leader was attacked outside Vucic’s party offices in a Belgrade suburb, suffering facial injuries.

Vucic, a former ultranationalist who has boasted of close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has sought to portray himself as a guarantor of stability amid the turmoil raging in Europe.

Speaking after voting in Belgrade, Vucic said he expected Serbia to continue on the path of “stability, tranquility and peace”.

“I believe in a significant and convincing victory and I believe everyone will get what they deserve, according to how much they worked and, understandably, in accordance with the expectations of the citizens for the future,” he said.

A Serbian voter casts her ballot at a polling station in Belgrade, during general elections. PHOTO: AFP