Serbia’s president declared a landslide victory Sunday for his right-wing party in a parliamentary vote held amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus and a boycott of much of the opposition, AP reports:
Aleksandar Vucic told jubilant supporters that his Serbian Progressive Party won over 60% of the vote, or some 190 seats in the 250-seat Serbian parliament. The initial unofficial results indicate that Serbia will have a unique assembly, with virtually no opposition and only three or four parties out of the 21 which were running. Vucic’s allied Socialists are slated to get 10% for the second place in the vote.
Serbia has come under increasing scrutiny from democracy watchdogs such as Freedom House, which recently said the country was no longer a democracy owing to “years of increasing state capture, abuse of power and strongman tactics employed by Aleksandar Vucic”, The FT adds.
“It seems we are becoming more of a one-party system,” Srdjan Majstorovic, a Serbian political scientist, told the Financial Times. He said Mr Vucic would need to include other parties “to share responsibility for the upcoming difficult decisions he is expected to deliver”, such as a potential deal on Kosovo.
Tena Prelec, a researcher in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, said it was “harder for opposition parties to come to the fore” in Serbia because there was “a fundamental imbalance in access to the media, in the control of polling stations and, most importantly, in access to state resources”.
As misinformation floods citizens, Serbia’s independent media prove the most important sources of objective information amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) adds. The Belgrade-based Crime and Corruption Reporting Network KRIK is an investigative reporting center with the mission to support hard-hitting investigative journalism as a tool against corruption. Since 2015, NED has supported KRIK’s efforts to raise awareness about the links between government corruption and organized crime through investigative reporting.