From: Bledar Qalliu
Vucic Wins Second Term as His Party Loses Absolute Majority

Aleksandar Vucic has won a second 5-year term in office as Serbia’s president following the Sunday elections, but his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) was unable to maintain a three-fifth majority of seats in parliament despite convincingly winning the parliamentary vote as well.

Live results from the National Electoral Commission show Vucic leading with 58.5 percent while 96 percent of all votes have been counted. This is virtually the same results as in 2017 for Vucic, and it avoids a runoff with the main opposition candidate Zdravko Ponos who got only 18.3 percent of votes.

The SNS got 43 percent of the counted votes, securing the party 119 seats in the 250-seat parliament – short of seven seats from a simple majority of 226 seats needed to form the next government. This result is nearly one-third down from the 61 percent in 2020 elections, which gave the SNS 188 seats.

A coalition of Vucic’s main ally, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), of Speaker of Parliament Ivica Dacic won 11.5 percent, secured the same 32 seats in parliament. It remains to be seen whether the two parties will strike another governing coalition deal, with Vucic having other better options to consider.

Opposition United for Victory alliance of presidential candidate Zdravko Ponos obtained 13.6 percent.

On Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Serbia nearly 59 percent of the 6.5 million eligible voters turned out in polling stations.

Putin Congratulates Vucic

Russian President Vladimir Putin was the first to congratulate Vucic, his staunch supporter and closest ally in Europe, stressing Kremlin’s hope to strengthen the “strategic partnership” between the two countries. Serbia, a candidate to the European Union, has been constantly defying the union’s lenient calls to impose sanctions on Russia since its takeover of Crimea in 2014. It has instead strengthened military cooperation with Russia and beefed up capabilities with Russian fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, armored vehicles and other heavy weapons.

Of the eight presidential candidates, three of them supported Serbia’s EU membership during the electoral campaign, while all promised to strengthen cooperation with Russia and China.

Kosovo Serbs voting in Serbian elections

None of the candidates supported the recognition of Kosovo, which is recognized by more than half of the United Nations member states, but not by Russia and China.

According to the election commission, about 100 thousand Kosovo Serbs were eligible to vote in Serbian elections. This year, the government of Albin Kurti in Prishtina demanded Serbia to ask for official permission for polling stations to open for Serbs in Kosovo but Serbia refused, saying such official request to Kosovo government would lead to Kurti claiming Serbia recognized its neighboring country. Vucic decided to have Kosovo Serbs vote in polling stations in Serbia instead, close to the border with Kosovo.

Kosovo was criticized by the European Union, United States and United Kingdom for not allowing Serbia to conduct elections in its territory, but Kurti maintained that Serbia had decided on the matter by not being willing to discuss with the Kosovo government.

More than 40 buses with voters reportedly passed the border between the two countries on Sunday. Police in Kosovo made sure to smoothen its Serb-ethnicity citizens’ safe travel to and back from Serbia during the election day. Their work was commended by the German and French ambassadors in the country who visited the main border checkpoint in Merdare.

Earlier last week, the European Commission failed to condemn the participation of convicted war criminals in the electoral campaign for President Vucic and his allied parties.

Serbia Albanians prevented from voting in Serbian elections

Albanians in Serbia are expected to be represented by member of parliament Shaip Kamberi who has received about 0.3 percent of all votes.

The exact number of Albanians in Serbia remains unknown but in 2015 the OSCE estimated about 70 thousand ethnic Albanians registered in three municipalities bordering Kosovo: Presheva, Bujanoc, and Medvegja.

Civil society organizations say that about 20 thousand of them have emigrated to Kosovo, while Serbia has wiped out of its civil registry about six thousand of its Albanian citizens, making it impossible for them to cast their vote in Serbian elections.

The Serbian government’s policy to deregister its Albanian citizens from the civil registry was first denounced by Albanian researcher Flora Ferati-Sachsenmaier on Exit News in 2020. The results of her study show that about six thousand Albanians have been erased from the civil registry after they were not found at home during targeted checks by the Serbian government officials, with some 70 percent of all Albanians wiped out from the registry in some villages between 2012 and 2019. 

Ahead of Sunday elections, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani reiterated calls on the international community to condemn what she called “ethnic cleansing” of Albanians by the Serbian government of “authoritarian” President Vucic.

The government of Edi Rama in Albania, who cooperates closely with his counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, has yet to denounce the matter despite constitutional obligations to work for the provision of rights for Albanian minorities.