Serbia to hold general election despite pandemic


In this March 15, 2020, photo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia. Since declaring nationwide state of emergency Vucic has suspended parliament, giving him widespread powers such as closing borders and introducing a 12-hour curfew. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia’s president has set June 21 as the date of a parliamentary election which has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote was originally scheduled for April 26 but was put on hold after a nationwide state of emergency was proclaimed in mid-March.

Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that “after these difficult times we have to create a democratic atmosphere and select an assembly and government that will serve in the interest of the people.”

Vucic has announced that the emergency measures will be lifted later this week because the rate of coronavirus infections decreased sufficiently in the Balkan country.

Analysts believe Vucic, a former ultra-nationalist, is keen to have the vote as soon as possible because of his apparently declining popularity due to harsh lockdown measures his government has implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Most of the democratic opposition parties plan to boycott the vote because of Vucic’s firm control of media and the electoral process.

Vucic’s right-wing Serbian Progressive party is expected to emerge as an overwhelming winner of the vote and continue its eight years of dominance of the Serbian political scene.

Serbia has recorded over 9,500 coronavirus cases and 197 deaths.

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