Serbian citizens keen to participate in April 3 elections

Voters expect new government to provide better economy, opportunities for young people.

Serbian citizens keen to participate in April 3 elections

While Europe is in the middle of the Russia-Ukraine war, Serbians are gearing up for parliamentary and local elections on April 3.

Many are very keen to participate in the elections to form a new government to shape a better future for a younger generation in Serbia.

Pregrad Velickovic told Anadolu Agency he will vote but is still evaluating the candidates.

“I will definitely participate in the elections but I am not yet sure who I am going to vote for. I should examine the political suggestions that will be given to us. The new government must integrate Serbia into world economics. They must think about the prosperity of Serbia and better opportunities for young people and of course for all the people including the pension fund, better health insurance and everything that is crucial for someone living in Serbia for a better life.

“A major problem is that politicians do not know the directions that they are going. They want to do everything but they must choose sides, they must do something to find the road for the people and the country,'' said Velickovic.

Danica Blecic said she expects the new government to bring stability in various fields.

''My expectations from the new government are a stable Serbia, better economy and better education for young people and more opportunities in business for young people to make a better career,'' she said.

Natalija Milojevic expects solutions for young people to remain in Serbia.

''I expect from the new government much more stability in the economy so that young people stay living in Serbia and much more opportunities for the young people to have a comfortable life in Serbia,'' said Milojevic.

Mladen Djordjevic, 27, from Nis told Anadolu Agency that he was not interested in voting.

''Recently, I realized how important it is to vote so things can change. I expect the new government to provide peace, to fight corruption and to bring Serbia closer to be a member of the European Union,'' he said.

Filip Jovanovic said that he expects more participation in elections.

''I would really like to see more democracy in Serbia, more participation of citizens in the election process, and more political parties in the assembly'' said Jovanovic.

Parliamentary elections were supposed to be in 2024, although President Aleksandar Vucic announced in October 2020 that a snap parliamentary elections will be held in or before April 2022.

Besides the general elections, local elections will be held in 11 municipalities and two cities, including Belgrade.

About 6.5 million eligible voters will elect members to the 250-seat National Assembly, the country’s unicameral parliament, from a list of 18 candidates.

A total of 126 seats are needed for a majority in the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, eight candidates are competing in the presidential election.

Also, local elections will be held in the capital, Belgrade, and in the city of Bor.

Bor with 48,615 residents, has 32 different ethnic groups represented among the population. It is one of the most ethnically mixed cities in Serbia.

Vucic and retired Gen. Zdravko Ponos are the two favorites in the presidential race.

52-year-old Vucic has been president since 2017 and has been on the political screen since the early 1990s. He served as prime minister for two terms, from 2014 to 2016 and 2016 until 2017.

Vucic left the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and formed the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) with former President Tomislav Nikolic in 2008.

His election slogan is ''Peace and Stability'' in which he wows more infrastructure development for economic growth as well as preserving peace and stability.

Meanwhile, Ponos was a professional soldier who rose to general and held the post of Chief of General Staff before retiring.

Ponos attended the Royal College of Defense Studies and served in the Serbian Foreign Ministry after retiring from the military.

He claims that Serbian society is divided into ''ours'' and ''theirs'' and wows to unite everybody and to be the president of all citizens.

For the 250-seat parliament, the main coalitions are Vucic's ''Together We Can Do Everything'' and the Marinika Tepic's ''United For Serbia’s Victory.''

Serbian Radical Party leader ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj is running for a seat in parliament again, despite having a war crime conviction that should have legally barred him from sitting as an MP.

Seselj was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals at The Hague in April 2018 for inciting war crimes against ethnic Croats in the Serbian village of Hrtkovci in 1992. However, because of the years he had already spent in custody, he did not have to serve the sentence.

Open issues

Serbia is going through major issues, one being in the breakaway region of Kosovo which declared independence in February 2008 but Belgrade still claims it is a breakaway province.

And Serbia has refused to impose sanctions on Russia for the Ukraine war.

The government is facing pressure from the European Union and US to recognize Kosovo's independence and impose sanctions on Russia.

Another issue that the new government will face is environmental protests.

A series of protests have been going on across the country for the adoption of the modified expropriation law regarding Rio Tinto's planned lithium mine investment.

Environmentalists are demanding a law that would ban lithium and borate mining in Serbia as a result of various problems with waste management air and water pollution.

The government announced Jan. 20 that it decided to withdraw the expropriation law and adopted the amendments for the law on referendum.

Vucic on dissolved parliament Feb. 15 and urged citizens to show the democratic capacity of Serbia.

He said it will be another step into the democratic and European future of Serbia.

While the current population is 6.9 million, according to the World Bank and other sources, the Balkan nation has a large expatriate population that is eligible to vote.

Polling stations will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. local time.