BELGRADE: Serbia’s electoral commission said it had asked some voters to recast their ballots after both Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, whose party easily won re-election, and opposition groups disputed the fairness of the weekend polls.
The repeat votes at 15 polling stations, which is expected to take place next week and involve up to 16,500 voters, mean the final results of Sunday’s general election will not be announced on Thursday, as required by law.
The commission said it was continuing to review reports from the polling stations, although international observers said “fundamental freedoms” had been respected during the vote.
Opposition groups began claiming irregularities on Sunday.
After the preliminary official results were announced a day later Vucic also expressed concerns and called for a review.
With 98 per cent of ballots counted, the premier’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won nearly 50 per cent of the vote but its seat tally in the 250-member parliament dropped from 158 in the last election to 131 after more parties made it into parliament.
In a joint statement released Thursday, four opposition groups said they had acquired evidence of “huge irregularities and serious electoral fraud”.Vucic countered by accusing his opponents of pressuring the electoral commission in order to make it past the five-percent vote threshold for parliamentary representation.
The prime minister said he expected the votes to be “counted fairly” so that “no one gets more than he should have”, Blic newspaper reported Thursday.
The 46-year-old leader controversially called the election two years ahead of schedule, saying he needed a clear mandate to implement reforms needed for Serbia to join the European Union.
His critics, however, accused him of attempting to consolidate and prolong his power.
Vucic’s rivals say he wants to oust smaller parties from parliament so that their seats will be redistributed to other groups in the legislature, increasing the power of the SNS. “Obviously, the SNS will not hesitate to abuse (power) to hide the fact that it won 27 MPs fewer,” the opposition Democratic Party said in a statement on Wednesday.
The far-right coalition Dveri-DSS, which won exactly five per cent of the vote, has threatened to launch street protests if it is excluded from parliament by the commission’s decisions.