Who is Aleksandar Vucic
Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić has had his self-image confirmed as a strong man in the Balkans since Sunday. In the parliamentary elections, his right-wing national "Progressive Party", the SNS, increased its majority in parliament to 189 out of 250 seats, so it will be able to rule with a three-quarters majority in the future, and there is no longer any significant opposition. "I've never experienced a moment like this before," cheered the two-meter man.
Whereby the surprise on display about the victory was probably a little bigger than the actual one: Major sections of the opposition had called for an election boycott on the grounds that the prerequisites for fair and free elections were not in place, especially Vučić - similar to his brother in spirit, Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - controls most of the important media in the country and a balanced election campaign was not possible during the extremely strict Corona lockdown. Critics also reported manipulation in some polling stations on Sunday.
Not only for Vučić himself, the election result at this level is something previously unknown, but for the whole country. Not even the nationalist warmonger and alleged war criminal Slobodan Milošević, under whose presidency Vučić served as minister of information at the time, could not rely on such an overwhelming majority.
In 2014, when Vučić became Serbia's prime minister, he distanced himself from his own incitement to war in the Milošević years and the harassment against journalists at the time. He spoke of "mistakes" and turned his gaze to Brussels. Vučić was working towards his country's accession to the EU; some observers even attested that he had turned into a "fiery" European.
At least since last year, at the instigation of France, the EU froze the accession talks with the countries of the Western Balkans, Vučić has become increasingly defiant; he hardly misses an opportunity to convey to the Europeans that he doesn't need their partnership at all. The head of the state with a population of seven million is clearly enjoying the interest that other global powers are showing in his country. When a plane with doctors and respirators from China landed in Belgrade in the middle of the Corona crisis, Vučić kissed the Chinese flag and cheered the "steel friendship" with the People's Republic. During the election campaign, he assured the Russian Foreign Minister during his visit to Belgrade that Moscow would have the last word on all questions concerning the status of Kosovo. At the same time, he lets himself be charmed by Richard Grenell, the special envoy of US President Trump, who is looking for a deal in the Balkans as a trump card in his own election campaign: a permanent settlement of the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo - including a possible swap of territories according to ethnic criteria, as the Europeans reject it. He and his Kosovar colleague invited Vučić to the White House for the end of this week.
During the election campaign, everything ran towards a central message, which resulted in the simple slogan: "Aleksandar Vučić. For our children". (Next to that there wasn't even room for the name of the party; Vučić was brand enough for himself.) Offering prospects for the country's children is indeed an urgent task - so far, as soon as they have fledged, they migrate abroad in droves, to work as a nurse in Heidelberg or as a bus driver in London. Those who are still in the country have recently demonstrated again and again against nepotism and corruption.
Now Aleksandar Vučić can calmly show how serious he is with his new youth policy. He no longer has to fear any noteworthy political resistance.
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