Which way for Serbia under President Vučić?
Having garnered 55 percent of the vote Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić won the presidential election on Sunday. In his speech he announced that Serbia would continue to seek EU membership and at the same time maintain good relations with Russia and China. While some commentators grapple with Serbia's paradoxical role others voice concern about the state of democracy in the country.
More power than Slobodan Milošević
Vučić's election will further weaken democracy in Serbia, Der Standard fears:
“If anyone had any doubts before, they have the proof now: Aleksandar Vučić is the unimpeachable boss in Serbia. Directly elected by the people now, his authority has taken on new proportions. He will remain the leader of the dominant [right-wing conservative] SNS, allowing him to continue pulling all the strings, appoint an obedient hanger-on as his prime minister and thus introduce through the back door an authoritarian presidential system in which only one man makes all the decisions. This will have a disastrous impact on Serbia's already fragile democracy. Not even Slobodan Milošević wielded as much power as Vučić does now. The big difference: Vučić enjoys the support of the West.”
EU needs a guarantor of stability in the Balkans
Hospodářské noviny explains the intricate relations between Serbia and the EU:
“A majority of voters wants a European Serbia that at the same time cooperates with Russia and China. That was precisely what the former prime minister Aleksandar Vučić promised the people, and he was elected president. His promise is not a paradox. Yes, Serbia wants to become an EU member, but it is not only dependent on the EU. ... The Serbs know full well that the EU won't be enlarged just like that. That's why Russian and Chinese investments are welcome. ... For Europe, Vučić is a guarantor of stability. True, like his Bulgarian colleague Borisov he has had to take a lot of flak. Nevertheless the two can play an important role in limiting the influence of Russia and Turkey (while at the same time curbing the immigration problem). That's why they're 'our men' in the Balkans.”
Vučić must choose sides
Vučić must clearly state his position regarding Serbia's relationship with Russia and with the EU, comments Jutarnji list:
“After the euphoria of election night the old and new leader must get back to business. He must finally choose between Brussels or Moscow as Serbia's strategic partner. Both put their faith in him before the election as a 'stabilising factor'. At the moment neither side wants the decision to be taken yet; they don't want to deal with the hefty consequences. But during his mandate both sides will up the pressure on Vučić. Whether he will survive the decision politically is questionable, because even though he, like [Hungarian Prime Minister] Orbán, seems all-powerful, his popularity has not increased. The voter turnout of just 55 percent shows that over half of the Serbs boycotted the election.”
Despicable media aided the victory
Serbia's media played a big role in Aleksandar Vučić's clear victory, according to Delo:
“Vučić's victory is a warning about what happens when media are left entirely at the mercy of the market. … You end up with despicable media that pour dirt on everything that those in power don't like. Has anyone mentioned the serious, responsible, high-quality 'mainstream' media? No, because they no longer exist. And what can Serbia learn from this victory? ... That it makes sense to go and vote when every day your head of government tries to tell you fairy tales about an economic progress from which only his pals benefit while your standard of living gets worse with each month that passes.”