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Serbia Politics June 2020

Serbia: Ruling SNS handed landslide victory in June parliamentary elections, policy continuation expected

In parliamentary elections held on 21 June, the incumbent Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won a landslide victory, which should translate into large-scale policy continuation. The vote was postponed from its originally scheduled date of 26 April due to Covid-19.

The SNS, which won over 60% of the votes after major opposition parties boycotted the election on grounds that it was undemocratic, ran on a platform of fiscal consolidation. Priorities include achieving credit ratings upgrades and keeping public debt under control while increasing public investment to tackle infrastructure needs as well as improving education, healthcare and housing. On the foreign policy front, EU accession remains a key objective but strained relations with Kosovo pose an obstacle, despite some progress made regarding other accession requirements. Tensions with Kosovo spiked after its government imposed a 100% import duty on Serbian goods in response to Serbia’s blocking of Kosovo from international bodies. Nonetheless, recent developments provide cautious optimism for a normalization of relations.

The ruling party’s former coalition partner, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), led a coalition that obtained roughly 10% of the votes and came in second, followed by the relatively new populist conservative Serbian Patriotic Alliance (SPAS). Both the SPS and SPAS mentioned willingness to work with SNS; however, given the absolute majority, the SNS will not be dependent on the support of other parties to govern. That said, analysts at JPMorgan stated that the SNS “may decide to appoint members of other parties to their cabinet anyway, to demonstrate inclusiveness and to build an even broader consensus”.

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