Serbs vote in election overshadowed by Russia’s war in Ukraine | Election News

Pollsters reported irregularities including taking pictures of ballot papers as incumbent President Vucic is expected to win another term.

Serbs voted in presidential and parliamentary elections Incumbent President Aleksandar Vucic and his Radical Party (SNS) battle an opposition committed to fighting corruption and improving environmental protection.

Vucic is running for a second five-year term with the promise of peace and stability just like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has left Serbia under pressure from the West to choose between its traditional relationship with Moscow and a will. hope to join the European Union.

Voting group CRTA said voters turned out to cast their ballots before 7 p.m. (17:00 GMT) on Sunday, an hour before polls close, representing 54.6% of the total 6.5 million voters. estimated tri of Serbia, compared with 44.9% in 2020.

Preliminary results are expected around 9:30pm (19:30 GMT). Opinion polls are not allowed by law.

CESiD and CRTA pollsters reported a number of irregularities, including taking pictures of the ballots.

N1 television reported that an opposition leader, Pavle Grbovic, had been attacked and suffered minor injuries not far from his polling station in Belgrade and showed video of the incident taken on a mobile phone.

Grbovic confirmed the incident on Twitter.

A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Belgrade
A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Belgrade, Serbia [Marko Drobnjakovic/AP Photo]

Vuvic is expected to win

Polls show that Vucic, a conservative, will of course win in the first round, against Zdravko Ponos, a retired general representing the pro-European coalition and center for Victory. .

The opposition largely boycotted the 2020 parliamentary elections, allowing Vucic’s SNS party and its allies to win 188 seats in the 250-seat parliament.

Vucic has skillfully used the return of war in europe With the coronavirus pandemic working in his favor, voters promise continued stability amid uncertainty.

“We expect a very big win. That’s what we’ve been working on for the last four or five years, and we believe we will continue with the great efforts and development of this country,” the president said after casting his early vote. on Sunday.

Ponos said he hopes the contest will provide an avenue to create “serious change” in the country.

“I hope for a bright future. Elections are the right way to change the situation. I hope the citizens of Serbia will take the opportunity today,” said Ponos.

Voters from Kosovo – the former predominantly Albanian province of Serbia, which declared independence in 2008 – were taken to the polling stations in Serbia by bus.

Darkness of War

Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine has had a major impact on the campaign in Serbia, which is still recovering from wars and isolation in the Balkans in the 1990s.

Serbia is almost entirely dependent on Russian gaswhile their military maintains relations with the Russian military.

The Kremlin also supports Belgrade’s opposition to Kosovo’s independence.

Serbian voters line up to cast their ballots
Serbian voters line up to cast their ballots at a polling station during the general election in Belgrade [AFP]

Although Serbia supports two UN resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it refuses to impose sanctions on Moscow.

A veteran politician who served as information minister in 1998 under former soldier Slobodan Milosevic, Vucic has transformed from a supporter of nationalism to an advocate of EU membership, but is also militarily neutral and has ties to Russia and China.

Former Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac told Al Jazeera that Vuvic was in a “very difficult situation” of wise foreign policy.

He from Podgorica, Montenegro said: “I don’t think in Europe you can really have a very good relationship with Russia and at the same time promote further EU integration.

Ponos accused Vucic of using the war in Ukraine during his campaign to take advantage of people’s fears.

Opposition and human rights watchdogs have also accused Vucic and his allies of an autocratic, corrupt, tyrannical style of rule, controlling the media, attacking political opponents and relations. with organized crime.

Vucic and his allies have repeatedly denied all of those allegations.

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