Serbia's ruling party wins 61% of vote amid opposition boycott
Aljosa Milenkovic
President Aleksandar Vučić celebrates a 61% victory in the Serbian elections on Sunday. /Aleksandar Dimitrijevic/AFP

President Aleksandar Vučić celebrates a 61% victory in the Serbian elections on Sunday. /Aleksandar Dimitrijevic/AFP

A traditional Serbian brass band was pumping up the mood at the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) headquarters after it became clear the party had scored a big majority.  

As some ministers danced, President Aleksandar Vučić entered the room, cheered by his supporters after winning 61 percent of the votes cast in Sunday's election.

"I'm proud and thankful to the citizens of Serbia. I'm thankful because Serbia has never given its trust to someone as it has given us. Serbia has never given its heart, and I believe its mind, to such an extent as it has given us. It is a huge responsibility for us," Vučić said in his address to media and supporters.

But, in another part of town there was a very different mood after some boycotted the elections due to issues of "illegality" and some gathered in front of the Serbian parliament to show their displeasure.

Srđan Nogo is one of the now-former MPs who decided not to participate in the elections.

"I boycotted the elections, like most people, because they are not legal. They were illegally moved from 26 April, then several election laws were changed during the election campaign. There are no free and fair conditions for elections. For 20 years in Serbia, we have only had election fraud," Nogo told CGTN Europe.

And it seemed that many citizens in the Serbian capital followed the opposition call, since only around 36 percent went to the voting stations. But turnout was a bit higher in Serbia as a whole. Across the country, 47 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, which is far lower than previous elections, but not as low as the opposition would have liked.

"The opposition will say that it is because of the boycott, and indeed that influenced the turnout. But the coronavirus epidemic certainly took it's toll, too. And there is a strong political apathy in Serbia. So the combination of the three resulted in the low turnout," political analyst Đorđe Vukadinović told CGTN Europe.

Unhindered by opposition complaints, celebrations continued among the ruling party supporters. Out of 250 seats in the parliament, they will hold 189. 

With COVID-19 not letting up and the intense Western pressure to recognize the independence of the Serbian breakaway province of Kosovo and Metohija, they will hold all the strings of power and decision-making. Those strings come with enormous responsibility, as the government has a raft of tough decisions to make in the coming years.