(Bloomberg) -- Serbia is likely hold an early election next year in response to growing pressure from opposition parties, President Aleksandar Vucic said late Sunday.
“We’ll have an election, I am ready,” Vucic told Belgrade-based Pink television. He said the election will be called by the end of the year and will probably be on March 4 or a week earlier.
The Balkan nation’s dominant political figure, Vucic has been publicly weighing an early election for months in the face of mounting criticism over his authoritarian leadership and domestic issue such as gun violence. Opposition forces have meandered over the merits of a fresh contest, with a new election potentially consolidating his authority.
Vucic has a track record of calling early votes, betting that he can rally his Progressive party base to victory. The election would be the third in the nation of 6.8 million since 2020.
This time, Vucic and his prime minister, Ana Brnabic, are grappling with protest marches from several opposition groups that have brought tens of thousands of Serbians to the streets of Belgrade and other cities. They accuse him and the government of corruption, stifling free speech and excessive control over most institutions, including the judiciary.
The weekly rallies by opponents began after two mass shootings in May and an outbreak of violence in northern Kosovo between ethnic Serbs and the mostly ethnic Albanian authorities.
Vucic has been in power as premier or president for a decade, running the Balkan nation in a style that parallels Prime Minister Viktor Orban in neighboring Hungary. He’s played a balancing act, seeking to maintain to relations with Moscow despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Serbia has condemned the war, but stopped short of adopting sanctions against the Kremlin.
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