A man identified only as a “group leader” has told police in Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina he had taken part in bribing people to vote for the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) in the last years’ local elections.
The man from the province’s town of Vrbas repeated his testimony to Vojvodina’s Research and Analytical Centre (VOICE), the Centre said on Tuesday.
Following the statement, the police started its probe into an opposition party’s allegation that during the May 2107 local elections, the SNS activists paid people a per-diem of some 8.5 Euros to vote for the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s party.
The man confessed that after an SNS activist had approached him, he was driving farmers to the voting booths instead to the fields and had paid them for voting.
“… I told them (the farmers) that who votes for the SNS would get a per-diem without working. Not all of them accepted, but those who did got the money,” the man told the VOICE, adding he did not see where there was a corruption since there was no coercion. “Who wanted, voted and got the money.”
He added it seemed he would be the only culprit in buying some 50 votes, while “I know many who did the same.”
The opposition party “It Was Enough” filed criminal charges for buying votes against an anonymous individual following the inspection of election material when their controllers discovered “a mysterious codes” like triangles, letters, numbers and crosses added to the voting papers, added to the votes for the SNS and its coalition partner The Movement of Socialists.
The SNS denied any wrongdoing and said the “accusations were absurd”.
It turned out that the coded voting papers exceeded 5.5 percent of the turnout and were over 13 percent of a total number of votes the SNS got.
The SNS list “Aleksandar Vucic – Faster, Stronger, Better" got over 40 percent of the votes in Vrbas.
The opposition has complained about many irregularities in Serbia’s elections at all levels in recent years. The parties alleged that people were driven to voting stations, offered money or jobs, were coerced into collecting the so-called safe votes among their co-workers and family members. etc.
The SNS denied the allegations and none had been investigated.