The center-right Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) increased the number of its seats in parliament to 180 from 131 in Sunday’s elections, with only two other parties passing the 3 percent threshold in an election which was partially boycotted by the opposition parties.
“We have won everywhere: even in places where we were poised to lose, places where we always lost before and at all the overseas polling stations,” Serbian President and SNS party President Aleksandar Vučić said Sunday night reacting to exit poll data by CeSID-Ipsos.
This is the third consecutive victory for Vučić’s party, which needed 167 seats for a two-thirds majority in the national assembly but comfortably exceeded that mark.
In an effort to encourage participation at the elections, the SNS lowered the parliamentary threshold from five to three percent, but turnout still dropped to around 48-49 percent compared with just over 56 percent at the 2016 and 53 percent in 2014.
While Vučić himself did not run for a seat in the elections, the 50-year-old lawyer from Belgrade has been the defining figure of Serbian politics since his first election victory in 2014 and is currently heading the Balkans country’s efforts to join the European Union. In theory, the fact that during the past half year neighboring Croatia held the revolving presidency of the EU should have helped Serbia’s ambitions, but the coronavirus pandemic forced Croatia to concentrate on keeping the EU operational during the extraordinary circumstances – a task most analyst agree the country succeeded in.
The introduction of the state of emergency in Serbia on March 15 also forced Serbia to postpone the elections, originally scheduled for April. The SNS’s coalition partner, the Socialist Party-United Serbia alliance, came in second with 10 percent of the votes and will likely have 30 seats in the assembly, one more than it had won in 2016.
While not a major force in the number of overall seats, the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMSZ), which is the main political representation of the ethnic Hungarians living in northern Serbia, will likely have eight or possibly nine seats in the legislature, compared with four during the previous cycle.
VMSZ President István Pásztor said that the Hungarian community, whose numbers have been falling since the early 1990s in Yugoslavia and now Serbia, has managed to “reverse the wheels of history”, especially taking into account the fact that in the municipal elections also held on Sunday it had received the highest number of votes of the past 25 years.
The news of the center-right party’s landslide victory was greeted with cheers from conservatives in other countries. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a close ally and good friend of Vučić, was among the first to congratulate him on Sunday evening in a Facebook post.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, addresses the media outside a polling station, in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, June 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)