Will the Elections in Serbia Finally Lead to a Long-needed Western Pivot?

DPC is sharing threads posted on Twitter/X for readers not on that platform.

1/ Yesterday’s snap elections in Serbia (for national parliament and Belgrade city council) mirror, like no elections since October 5, 2000, the state of “democracy” in Serbia and the role and responsibility of the West in enabling this decline.

2/ This year’s elections stood out for showing a very aggressive and coordinated campaign against a democratic opposition, which was united for the first time since the @sns_srbija won power in 2012.

3/ It was also a more highly personalized election campaign by the ruling SNS than ever before, entirely focused on President @avucic, whose name was on the ballots though he was not up for election, and since May 2023 is no longer president of the party.

4/ The elections also showcased claims of the most widespread election fraud since Milosevic. This demonstrates the unprecedented insecurity of the Vucic regime following the mass shootings earlier this year and subsequent citizens protests.

5/ Two episodes stood out on election day. The first was a meeting of the opposition leadership at the MUP premises, and included MUP and police leadership. The fascinating audio recording published by the opposition is a revelation.

6/ The police conveyed a message allegedly from @avucic that he and his party would respect the election outcome should the opposition win the Belgrade city elections, the only open race according to pre-election polls. Vucic has no legal role in the electoral process.

7/ This demonstrates that Serbia is a mere titular democracy, but an (unconstitutional) autocracy on substance. The behavior of the officials present (including the chief of cabinet of the interior minister and Serbia’s police director) bears the hallmarks of a police state.

8/ Second, the mass bussing of Serbs from the Republika Srpska (RS) to polling stations in Belgrade, strongly hinting to the illegal provision with Belgrade residence/IDs, obviously aimed at preventing an opposition election victory in the capital, as documented by media and NGOs …

9/ … – because for BiH citizens with double-citizenship to vote in Serbia’s parliamentary elections, they could have done so in several polling stations organized in the RS…

10/ … The only reason for them to vote in Belgrade is if they at the same time voted in the city council elections, but in order to be able to do so, you need a residence in Belgrade. But then, …

11/ … several interviewed by journalists on a parking lot in Novi Beograd from which their transport to polling stations across town was organized declared not to know in which part of town they had to vote.

12/ It also offers a real-time demonstration of the implementation of the Vucic regime’s regional policy of Srpski svet – the Serbia world – with the effect of undermining not only of the sovereignty and democracy of neighboring countries, but also of Serbia itself.

13/ The West’s silence concerning these events so far, as with the civic protests of the past half year, are of a piece with Western complicity in the @sns_srbija rule over the last decade, and in Serbia’s transformation into a @avucic-led autocratic regime.

14/ That complicity is no longer even yielding the transactionalist benefits for which it was initially devised – Serbia’s cooperative role in the Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue, and in maintaining regional stability – as demonstrated in September in Banjska.

15/ It is thus high time for the West, the EU and the US, to take a strategic U-turn on its Serbia – and Western Balkan – policy towards one firmly based on liberal democratic values.

16/ This ought to begin with clear and vocal criticism of yesterday’s undemocratic elections and a call for a thorough investigation of the allegations of widespread fraud.