19.2% of people registered to vote will not vote in the parliamentary elections in Serbia, according to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Polls (BIRODI). According to these estimates, abstentions are the second strongest political group in the country, just behind the Serbian Progressive Party.
The survey was conducted on a sample of 1,006 citizens, in two rounds: from 22nd to 25th April and from 2nd to 5th May this year. Here is the profile of the average abstainer according to the analysis done on the basis of the collected data.
The data classify the percentage of people who do not vote by gender, age, education and place of residence.
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The breakdown by gender indicates that there are 13.3% of abstainers among the male respondents, which is significantly lower than for women who stand at 24.7%. The majority of non-voters are between 30 and 39 years old (21.1%) and between 40 and 49 years old (21.7%), while the least number of people who abstain from voting belongs to the category of between 50 and 64 year-olds (17.5%).
Sumadija and Vojvodina
As for the level of education of those who do not vote, their number decreases in direct proportion to the level of education. Almost a quarter (23.9%) of those who only have primary or lower education abstain from voting, 18.3% of those who graduated and 12.9% of voters who have a university or a college degree.
BIRODI has also divided the interviewees by territorial affiliation: the highest number of abstentions is in Western Serbia and Sumadija, 23.3%, and about 3% less in Vojvodina (20.4%). The abstainers live mainly in the countryside (23%) compared to 16.6% who live in the cities.
Citizens were also asked to comment on Serbia’s potential membership of international alliances. According to the data, 41.9% of those abstaining from voting believe that Serbia should be a member of the EU and NATO. 15.7% of the abstainers think that Serbia should only be a member of the Union and 16.3% think that it would be better for Serbia to form an alliance with Russia. Finally, 23.8% believe that any international alliances, both military and political, should be avoided.
The two groups
Commenting on the results of the study Zoran Gavrilovic, director of BIRODI, tells the Blic daily that the research confirms that there are two types of abstentions:
“On the one hand, there are members of marginalized sectors of society who are socially and politically excluded, which means that they are little or not at all ready to express their interests through the electoral vote. The second group of apolitical people are those from the upper classes, who see politics only as “fun for the nation”; they look after their own interests and protect them outside the political world, which therefore does not influence their lives,” says Gavrilovic.
Political parties don’t have an ideology
According to Zoran Gavrilovic, Serbia is thirsty for politicisation: “We are relatively a highly apolitical society; 58% of those interviewed answered “apolitical” or “anti-political” when asked about their ideological orientation. The tendency towards populism and the influence of marketing agencies have transformed political parties into de-ideologised organizations with the sole function of promoting their leader, a figure who should ensure a golden age for society. The politicisation of parties will bring the focus on the ideological profile and integrity, which is a way to reduce abstinence and thus increase democratic legitimacy. The concept of a party in which the focus is on the party leader and/or political marketing for its own sake creates an industry of populism that is an enemy of democracy,” Gavrilovic concludes.
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