Contemporary Southeastern Europe
Parliamentary Elections in Serbia 2014: Replay or Reset?
In January 2014, after two years and hence after only half of the term in office, the government of Serbia, consisting at its core of the Socialist Party of Serbia (Socijalistička partija Srbije, SPS) and the Serbian Progressive Party (Srpska napredna stranka, SNS) announced its suspension and asked for snap elections to be held in March 2014. Despite the fact that the government had a stable majority in the parliament, and was neither exposed to a no-confidence vote nor confronted with an initiative for such, this decision came as no surprise. The official explanation issued by the government was that, after having had achieved a number of crucial steps (start of the EU membership talks, deepening the dialogue with Priština, domestic reforms, fighting organized crime and corruption), the next steps in this direction would require “the highest political support of the citizens of Serbia.” This of course only wrapped the real reasons into an empty phrase. High SNS officials were a bit more concrete in providing explanations. Tomislav Nikolić, the President of Serbia, who was responsible for the call for elections, said that “the Government wants to prove its legitimacy,” while prior to this the leader of SNS and vice-president of the government, Aleksandar Vučić, explained that “the will of the people should be verified” and that the time has come to disclose what each of the coalition parties has achieved. The latter statement especially indicated the existing tensions in the ruling coalition. Contrary to SNS officials, their main coalition partner Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, head of the SPS, was convinced that “Serbia had more important things to care about than elections.”