Opposition parties that dispute the regularity of elections in Serbia have suspended daily protests and have announced sporadic larger gatherings after the Orthodox Christmas.
The holidays, but also the relatively low turnout at the protests despite heavy accusations and hunger strikes, forced the opposition to try to preserve the energy generated by citizens’ dissatisfaction.
It remained unclear what will be the reason for the new gatherings, but Miroslav Aleksić, one of the leaders of the Serbia against Violence coalition, said that the opposition “will react if the government tries to constitute the state and Belgrade parliaments this month.”
The state authorities have not denied the possibility of repeating the Belgrade elections if no clear majority is achieved while calling the Vojvodina election flawless, with very few official objections.
President Aleksandar Vučić declares that “there will be no international investigation when it comes to the elections”, adding that he “doesn’t care what the foreign media and foreign governments say about it”.
Weak pressure in the streets
The tepid support for street protests shows that citizens are tired of protests, historian and former ambassador Milan St. Protić says.
“They were not massive enough to put pressure on this regime. I think that the opposition is facing a difficult decision whether to accept public office positions or to look for alternative pressure on the regime. I am afraid that the energy that appeared after those horrific shootings in May will not return,” Protić believes.
When it comes to the legal fight against the alleged election fraud, it is difficult to expect any success:
“It’s a Sisyphean task because the regime doesn’t give a damn about how democratic rules were violated during and before the elections. It is obvious that this regime is slipping into an open autocracy,” notes Protić.
„In such conditions, any opposition, even if it were better than the existing one, would encounter serious problems. The struggle using democratic means against an undemocratic regime is futile,” Protić believes.
Is external pressure on Vučić growing?
The opposition parties have already contacted the European institutions and demanded that the EU not recognize the election results and initiate an international investigation. The EU announced that it is waiting for the final report of the OSCE monitoring mission. For now, there is no indication of what that international engagement would look like.
Milan St. Protić, on the other hand, is convinced that “all the irregularities that have been recorded will lead to increased international pressure on Aleksandar Vučić, who does not have much room for manoeuvre.
“The opposition’s tactics around key issues are not supported by the international community and without that support, changes in Serbia will not happen. That’s why the impression was created that the regime is far more cooperative and useful than the opposition on those issues,” Protić points out.
(Deutsche Welle, 03.01.2024.)
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