Serbian populist wins landslide as many parties boycott

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) - A preliminary official vote count on Monday's parliamentary elections in Serbia confirmed an overwhelming victory for right-wing ruling party of populist President Aleksandar Vucic, RTS television said.
After choosing more than 60% of the ballots, Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party won around 61% of the votes, followed by its ally, the Socialists, with around 10%.
A partial boycott of the vote by key opposition parties, who said Vucic had wrongly dominated the state media, paved the way for Vucic's progressives to control about 190 seats in the 250-person assembly. Vucic declared the party's victory "historic".
The autocratic Serbian president had asked supporters to vote in large numbers to secure a strong mandate for international mediated peace negotiations on the future of the former Serbian province of Kosovo. Serbia rejected Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008.
The European Union's envoy for Kosovo, Miroslav Lajcak, is expected to meet in Vikic in Belgrade on Monday. The president is traveling with Moscow, an important ally, and a US-mediated meeting between Serbia and Kosovo will take place in Washington on June 27.
Sunday's vote in Serbia was the first national election in Europe since the Corona virus was blocked. The vote - originally planned for April but postponed due to the pandemic - took place as Serbia still reports dozens of new cases every day.
Despite the partial boycott, some smaller parties still took part in the vote, but were unable to get into parliament through the 3% threshold. Official turnout has not yet been released, while independent polling stations say it was lower than in previous polls.
The full official results are expected by Thursday.
Vucic, a former extreme nationalist, was briefly Minister of Information in the government of the late strong man Slobodan Milosevic during the bloody wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, in which more than 100,000 people were killed and millions displaced from their homes.
As Vucic now says he is seeking EU membership for Serbia, critics warn that democratic freedoms have been severely undermined since his party's takeover in 2012.

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