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Election Update – Serbia: Local and Parliamentary elections

Photo: Igor C/Flickr

On December 17th, local and parliamentary elections will take place in Serbia. These elections will appoint a new National Assembly, local councils and mayors. The snap elections were called for after two deadly shootings occurred in the country in May. Analysts tend that these early elections are part of a wider strategy in which incumbent president Aleksandar Vučić and his SNS party tries to buy time in the normalization of ties with Kosovo, but that he is also trying to bolster support for his party that has become less popular after the shootings. Serbia will thus vote for local councils, notably Belgrade, but also for its parliament. Serbia has a proportional electoral system. A party or joint list must obtain at least 3 percent of the votes to be represented in the parliament. Parties representing a minority are excluded from this rule.

Polling of December 12th (Source: NSPM) | SPN = Srbija protiv nasilja, Serbia Against Violence

Joint electoral list

Again during these elections, as in 2021, major opposition parties have decided to form a joint electoral list. They have joined their forces to compete with the ruling SNS party led by president Vučić. The coalition includes the Party of Freedom and Justice, the People’s Movement of Serbia, the Green-Left Front Heart, the Ecological Uprising, the Democratic Party, the Movement of Free Citizens, and the Party Together. The alliance called ‘Serbia Against Violence’ is targeting the broad feeling in society that violence is rising. The joint opposition parties are claiming Vučić’s administration inspires a culture of brutality propagated in part through divisive television programming and coarse reality shows. They are all pro-European but have a different stance on other topics such as for example Kosovo.

Social Democratic Parties

Noticeable social democratic parties are the Democratic Party (DS), which is part of the Serbia Against Violence alliance. They have a long history and were one of the organizers of the anti-violence protests. The party is led by Zoran Lutovac and focusses on the strengthening of democratic values, social values and the development of the economy. DS is associate member op the Party of European Socialist. Another party focusing on social democratic rights is the Zeleno Levi Front, the Green-Left Front. They originate from the protest movement Don’t let Belgrade Drown (NBD). They have also joined the Serbia Against Violence alliance. The Serbia Against Violence list polls at 25,6 percent, while Vučić’ SNS coalition polls at 39 percent.

The Radical Right

There are also a couple of extreme right parties participating. One of them is the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) led by Vojislav Šešelj, who was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague and later sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The party supports Russia in its war against Ukraine. They poll around 1,5 percent and will probably not be represented in parliament. However, President Vučić is a former member of the party. Another extreme right-wing party is the Dveri Party. They are ultra-conservative and want to ban abortion rights and gay rights. They poll around 6,5 percent.


As said, Vučić’ coalition is currently leading in the polls but has lost support from the electorate, now polling around 39 percent of the votes. The SNS is still in the lead, but if these polls will become reality, it will be a major loss for the governing party as the SNS coalition obtained over 60 percent of the votes during the parliamentary elections last year. Especially the mayoral race in Belgrade will be interesting, as Serbia Against Violence and the SNS are in a neck and neck race here. Belgrade is important because it’s economy size is comparable to a province and many foreign investors are located here. The office of mayor of Belgrade is thus an influential and wanted position.

Free and fair?

Concerns have been raised about the fairness of this elections. Multiple sources have told media outlets that they have been forced to support the SNS-campaign and that they and their family have been forced to support SNS. Media reported that thousands of people in state institutions and companies have been pressured not only into voting for them but also in participating in the election campaign. Refusal can lead to a sudden transfer of office or in being fired. Next to this, most of the media are owned by or in favor of the SNS. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock even called for fair election in which all candidates should have equal media access. Another fear is that post-election changes will be tolerated and that the government will take councilors or MPs from the opposition, which happened during the 2022 elections. The elections will be observed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Re-watch our event on the elections!

Want to know more about the upcoming elections? The Foundation Max van der Stoel organized an event on the election in which they held a panel discussion with Nevenka Tromp (University of Amsterdam), Thijs Reuten (MEP) and Geert Luteijn (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). You can watch the discussion here.

Written by Ype Verhagen