Serbia: Thousands demonstrate again against President Vučić

  • Thousands of people demonstrated in Belgrade and other Serbian cities for the tenth consecutive Saturday against President Vučić.
  • They demand free media and a fair framework for elections.
  • Vučić responded to the demonstrations this week with a tour of southern Serbian towns and villages.

In the Serbian capital Belgrade, thousands of people demonstrated again on Saturday against head of state Aleksander Vučić. Despite the bitter cold, the demonstrators protested the tenth weekend in a row against the president, to which they accuse an authoritarian style of government.

Some 40 other Serbian cities, including Nis and Novi Sad, also demonstrated how Serbian media reported. The demonstrators demanded, among other things, the resignation of the leadership of the state broadcaster RTS. Behind the protest movement stands a broad alliance whose spectrum ranges from left to far right.

Under the slogan "One in Five Million," they demanded free media and a fair framework for elections. The motto of the protests stems from a statement by the President that he would not respond to the demands of the demonstrators even if it were demanded by five million citizens. However, Serbia has seven million inhabitants.

The first demonstration against Vučić took place on the 8th of December. At that time, civil society organizations and the Alliance for Serbia called for an alliance of about a dozen opposition parties of various political affiliations. They accuse Vučić of pressure on dissenters, violence against opposition politicians, unfair election conditions, lack of separation of powers and lack of press freedom.

Vucic, who has transformed from an ultra-nationalist to a pro-European, rejects the allegations. He launched a campaign this week titled "Serbia's Future", with which he wants to point out his political achievements throughout the country. For this he toured through southern Serbian towns and villages. There he met employees of companies and public institutions. Observers suspect that Vučić is preparing for early elections.

The President has said on several occasions that in spring, he may prefer the election, which is actually due to be held in 2020, as a "concession" to the demonstrators. According to surveys, the winner would be the polls. His party SNS dominates the political scene. The opposition, however, is fragmented. She threatened a boycott of elections this week should Vučić fail to respond to their demands for free and fair elections.

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