Serbian elections: a big win for President Vučić

In Serbia's parliamentary elections President Aleksandar Vučić's conservative SNS has consolidated its dominant position, garnering around 63 percent of the vote. It is now likely to increase its representation in parliament from 131 of the 250 seats to 189. The SNS has been in power since 2012 and has seen its popularity rise during the coronavirus crisis. What does the outcome mean for the Balkan state and its leader?

Open/close all quotes
Népszava (HU) /

Welcome to the illiberal club

For Népszava the developments in Serbia seem unpleasantly familiar:

“This parliamentary election has shown how well the Hungarian formula also works in our neighbouring country. The deliberate division of society, the abolition of the separation of powers, the reorganisation of the media landscape in line with the government's views and interests, and the alignment of approximately 2 million government supporters were enough to achieve a two-thirds majority in parliament. ... But this is not the result of [national] unity. The Serbian opposition, which has failed to offer a credible alternative and has no real programme, has also contributed to this. ... The big question is whether Belgrade will now finally definitively deviate from its path towards the EU and choose the East instead.”

Radio Europa Liberă (RO) /

A free hand and strong position in Kosovo talks

The fact that before the talks with the US and Kosovo planned for the end of month Vučić is travelling to Moscow testifies to his confidence in the strength of his position, Radio Europa Liberă concludes:

“The American initiative excludes both the EU and Russia from the negotiations. Vučić, who has promised to take part in the negotiations in Washington with representatives of Kosovo, will first pay a visit to Moscow - on Tuesday [today]. The Serbian president is very confident of his power after his decisive win in Sunday's elections. The election victory gives him a free hand in many respects, including the negotiations on Kosovo, the country's former southern province.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Economically, nothing works without the EU

Handelsblatt puts Vučić's strength into perspective:

“Serbia, with its increasingly authoritarian system, is not on the way to Europe. Economically, however, there is no way around the EU and its member states. And Vučić knows this. The small EU country Austria alone accounts for ten percent of all direct investments. By comparison: the major powers China and Russia only account for two and five percent, respectively. These realities could have political consequences if the EU were more confident and assertive towards Belgrade. Because this year the Balkan country is experiencing an economic waterloo in the wake of the pandemic. Serbia therefore urgently needs support from abroad.”

Delo (SI) /

Dialogue with Priština could be the key

This will be a strong new government, Delo predicts:

“Its priority will be to continue Belgrade's dialogue with Priština, even though there is no social consensus in Serbia or Kosovo on a final solution to the centuries-old Serb-Albanian conflict. This could then be a good basis for solving a whole range of problems in the region. ... The divided opposition faces the challenge of looking for a new leader who is unburdened by the political past. ... Most of the players are too closely bound up with the legacy of the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević.” (HR) /

Mutiny is in the air believes the election victory could in fact mark the beginning of the end of the regime:

“After the victory Aleksandar Vučić, the man who has brought all political and social processes in Serbia under his absolute control, will have to deal with serious problems that will soon cause him to lose power in a spectacular manner. ... In addition to the dissatisfaction with the resolution of the Kosovo question, there is also the widespread poverty which will be exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis and Vučić's irrational behavior towards society. ... It is very likely that this combination will result in a mutiny that will remove Vučić from power.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Don't give in to Vučić's blackmail tactics

For the Tages-Anzeiger, Serbia has only the superficial appearance of a democracy - at best:

“In its most recent report the US organisation Freedom House, which measures democracy and human rights across the globe, classified Serbia as a 'hybrid regime', meaning neither a democracy nor a dictatorship. ... The populist Vucic likes the role of blackmailer: his message is that if the EU doesn't take in Serbia and the other Balkan states they will turn to impeccable democracies like China, Russia or Turkey. Belgrade has openly welcomed the oppression of the Uighurs and the abolition of Hong Kong's autonomy by Beijing. The EU will soon face the question of whether the Serbian population is being well served if it negotiates accession with the country's corrupt ruling clique.”