Serbian police crackdown on demonstrations following snap election – JURIST

Serbian police announced Monday that they have detained 38 individuals involved in a protest against alleged irregularities in the recent elections. Teargas was deployed by police against the protesters, who are calling for the recent parliamentary and local council election results to be annulled.

The governing populist party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), has been in power since 2012 but lost its parliamentary majority in the 2022 elections. The Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, has been beset by cabinet resignations and faced ongoing protests over two mass shootings and allegedly promoting a culture of violence. The next election was due to happen in April 2026 but the President of Serbia and member of the SNS, Aleksandar Vučić, announced a snap election which was held on December 17, saying the people needed to be “united in preserving vital national and state interests of the Republic of Serbia.”

The SNS secured 47% of the votes in the election but the results were immediately disputed. The opposition parties, who had united under the Serbia Against Violence (SPN) banner, asserted claims of electoral fraud and initiated protests on Monday evening. In a statement, the International Election Observation Mission said that, while the election ran smoothly, it was “marred by isolated instances of violence, procedural irregularities and frequent allegations of organizing and busing of voters to support the ruling party in local elections.” They went on to state that “serious irregularities observed by the IEOM included 9 cases of vote buying and 5 cases of ballot box stuffing.”

Vučić said that the protests were an attempt to overthrow the government, under the influence of the West. In a post on Instagram, he stated that the will of the people was sacred and that the protesters didn’t have “the right to destroy the property of this country, the property of our citizens, and even less has the right to inflict serious bodily harm to our police officers.” While Serbia is seeking membership of the EU, they also maintain close ties with Russia and have refused to recognise the independence of Kosovo. This has escalated tensions in the region and these latest protests threaten the stability of the nation further.

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