1006 GMT June 25, 2022
Some 6.5 million voters cast ballots to choose the president, a new parliament and local authorities in the capital, Belgrade, and over a dozen other towns and municipalities, according to AP.
Opinion surveys ahead of the vote 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 to win the majority in Belgrade, analysts said. This would deal a serious blow to the populists’ decade-old unchallenged rule in Serbia.
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.
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.
In a country that went through a series of wars in the 1990s and a NATO bombing in 1999, fears of a conflict spilling over have played into Vucic’s hands.
Though Serbia is formally seeking European Union entry, Vucic has fostered close ties with Russia and China, counting on the Serbs’ resentment of the West over the NATO air war.
Serbia has supported a U.N. resolution that condemned the Russian military operation in Ukraine, but Belgrade has not joined the sanctions against Moscow, a historic Slavic ally.
Beleaguered opposition groups have also mostly refrained from publicly advocating a tougher line on Moscow. Russia has supported Serbia’s claim on Kosovo, a former province that declared independence in 2008.
Vucic’s main opponent in the presidential election comes from a centrist-conservative coalition, United for Victory of Serbia, which comprises the main opposition parties.
Gen. Zdravko Ponos, a former army chief of staff, is hoping to push Vucic into a second round in the presidential ballot.