Serbian presidential elections are called for April 2, the speaker of the Serbian Parliament announced on March 2. As the electoral campaign is officially about to begin, the decisions to put Parliamentary session on hold and give 30 days for electoral campaign provoke general outcry in the opposition.
Current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić is considered as favourite, while the fragmented opposition doesn’t have a candidate who could gather the support massive enough to win.
The Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić will, as for now, keep his position during his campaign, as he is not obliged to resign by the law.
A day before she officially scheduled the elections, the speaker of Parliament Maja Gojković put the regular spring parliamentary session on hold until the completion the elections, provoking general outcry in the opposition.
Ms. Gojković told reporters in the Serbian Parliament that she had made that decision because she wished to "preserve the dignity of the parliament and democracy".
The opposition parties' representatives fiercely criticized the move that is, according to them, aimed at narrowing the opportunity of the opponents of the ruling party to be heard by the wider audience.
As examples, the Democratic Party representative Gordana Čomić said that the decision was formally in line with the rules of procedure, but that it was actually an abuse of parliament, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Čedomir Jovanović described it as a “slap in the face of the deputies”, while the view of the Social Democratic Party is that the parliament is the only place where criticism could be heard.
Indeed, there is no obvious reason to make a pause in this regular spring session as the presidential elections should in no way interfere with the work of the parliament. .
Immediately after the elections were scheduled, the opposition candidates called on the Prime Minister to step down from his position in order to ensure fair play.
It is widely believed that even after his expected transfer to the position of President, much less influential than the Prime Minister, Vučić will keep control over the key decisions in a country as the most powerful political figure of the ruling party.
Back in November 2016, Vučić said it was for him unacceptable to have a political opponent for a president.
„As the Government would keep working, this person would sit and groan every day, which Nikolić (the current Minister, from the ruling party) never did. (...) We need someone who will work with the Government, I don’t want to participate in annoying this country“, he said.
In 2016, Vučić reiterated several times that he doesn’t intent to run for president, but changed his decision in February, surprising many and, according to the media, provoking a brief crisis in the relations with the now president Nikolic who expected to be the candidate of the ruling SNS once more.
Opposition also raised the issue of the delay given to undergo procedure for nomination for presidential candidates.
While the official campaign of a month was also seen in the past, this time the procedure for nomination of candidates might require more time as the list of citizen’s support for candidates, which was previously verified by the courts, is now to be verified by public notaries.
As from March 1st, the verification task in Serbia has been transfered to the public notaries, who are less numerous, especially outside the largest cities.
Moreover, the Commissioner for the Information of Public Importance Rodoljub Šabić said that the public notaries are not obliged to provide information under the Law on the Information of Public Importance, and therefore calle on the Chambers of Public Notaries to engage to eliminate any doubt in the good work of notaries related to the pre-electoral campaign.