If the ruling coalition in Serbia decides to call an early general election, possible dates are June 23 or 30 this year, while if it opts to wait for the regular time, it will be held on May 3, 2020, media said on Wednesday.
The leadership of the most influential Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by President Aleksandar Vucic discussed the possible date, urging early elections, but Vucic only said they were closer than before.
The final decision is expected in the next three weeks, the Belgrade Vecernje Novosti daily says. It added that Vucic would have to hold a series of meetings with his coalition partners in the next several days.
But, the daily added, he would also have to talk to some of the key world politicians to determine whether to call the early ballot or wait for the regular election time, bearing in mind the economy, i.e., new investments and the challenges ahead concerning the Kosovo issue.
However, it also seems the decision will depend on the developments expected next month. After over three months of #1 in 5 million anti-government protests across the country, the opposition and demonstrators set a deadline expiring on April 13 for Vucic to resign after which the media should be free for six to nine months before any elections are called.
The opposition said on Tuesday the date for elections did not matter since if the rules didn’t change it would boycott them.
The analysts say Vucic can secure the legitimacy of the elections even with the opposition boycott. Dragoljub Zarkovic, the editor-in-chief of the independent Vreme weekly said Vucic had four to five parties in his coalition which could run independently.
The opposition says it doesn't expect Vucic to cede to their demands and announces a huge protest in Belgrade on April 13, calling on all demonstrators from Serbia to gather in the capital.
On Tuesday, SNS official and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said the party planned rallies in the northern city of Novi Sad on April 12 and in Belgrade on April 19. Those two gatherings will be held as a part of Vucic Future of Serbia campaign he launched after almost two months of protests, touring Serbia to explain to people his rule's successes h and point out the failures of his predecessors now in opposition.
His opponents said that unless election rules are changed they will boycott the ballot, fearing, as they said, “new rigged vote” with the vast majority of the media almost entirely closed to the opinion other than the one of the regime.
Zoran Zivkovic, the leader of the opposition New Party, told Vucic on Wednesday to “be a man, liberate all media as of today, enable election laws’ implementation and call elections for December.”
The escalation of political tensions happened less than two weeks ago when some opposition leaders and some protesters stormed the state RTS television demanding at least a few minutes in the prime time news.
The event was marked by a small number of incidents which the regime and opposition blamed each other for.
The next day, a big rally was held outside Vucic’s office during his news conference when protesters encircled the building preventing him from leaving and chanting slogans against him which were heard inside the office while Vucic was addressing the media.
The police arrested 18, mostly young people, including a teenager, concerning the protests and a court urgently sentenced some of them to 30-days imprisonment. The decision was reversed after Vucic pleaded with the judiciary for their release. Some would be tried again, but all were set free.