Is There a Change in Serbia’s Domestic Politics?

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In May 2023, three mass shootings in three different locations in Serbia shook the country to its core. First, on May 3, 2023, a 13-year-old child opened fire on students and staff at a school in Belgrade, causing many injuries and deaths.[1] While this incident in an elementary school shocked the country and its effects were still continuing, another mass attack occurred on May 4, 2023. This attack took place in two different places, Mladenovac and Smederevo. Again, as a result of this incident, many people were injured and deaths occurred. [2]

While these developments in Serbia were met with a public outcry, the international community also closely followed the developments. Although Serbia has strict laws on armament, it is among the leading countries in terms of the number of weapons per capita. Meanwhile, it has been observed that there has been an increase in violent incidents in the country in recent times, and it is notable that many contents promoting violence are readily accessible in media platforms. At this point, we should immediately remember that some violent television programs have become a tradition in the country. In fact, there are no government controls or sanctions against these highly watched programs and channels. [3]

After all these events, protests were organized under the leadership of opposition party groups in the country.[4] At this point, dozens of demonstrations have been organized and the current government has reached a deadlock in the shadow of the ongoing events. In fact, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that early elections could be held by the end of 2023. In June, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated that she was willing to resign if necessary while the protests continued, leaving the decision to Vucic. Vucic, who did not specify a clear date, pointed to the end of the year and stated that the elections will definitely take place. This means that Serbian voters will go to the polls for the third time in four years. [5]

On the other hand, it is estimated that early parliamentary elections, which are likely to take place along with the upcoming local elections during this time, may reshape politics in the country.[6] It can be said that the opposition aims to take advantage of the impasse created by the ongoing protests to unseat Vucic, who has been in the leadership seat for a long time Additionally, Vucic’s policy of balance in foreign affairs, while criticized in domestic politics, and his closeness to Western actors like the European Union (EU), also contribute to this deadlock. In this context, it can be said that the opposition in the country perceives these developments as an opportunity and will attempt to turn it into a tangible result.

However, it can be said that Vucic’s hand is also strong at this point. Because he has consolidated his influence and power in political and economic institutions during his term in office. So much so that no step can be taken in the country without Vucic’s approval. In addition to this, Vucic, who shaped the government and ministers formed in the previous elections according to his own policies, also took the decision-making mechanisms into his own hands.

In addition to all these, it is possible to say that the ongoing dialog process with Kosovo has also strengthened the support for Vucic. Vucic’s refraining from making concessions on Kosovo in favor of Serbia’s interests and continuing the dialogue process with the Kosovo side before the EU in this process makes Vucic an important actor.

In this context, it can be said that Serbia’s domestic politics will not experience a profound change in the coming days. Although the ongoing protests put the current government in a difficult situation, it is possible to say that it still retains its power. However, there is also the possibility of a surprise here. Because when you get to the core of the protests, it can be read as the reaction of people who are tired of Vucic’s “authoritarian” regime rather than an opposition movement. In such a case, Vucic and his party may face some problems at the ballot box. In this framework, although the opposition will try to turn this situation into an opportunity, it is not expected to achieve great success in the early elections. On the other hand, it can be assessed that there will be great competition in the local elections in this process.

[1] “2 Mass Shootings in 2 Days Plunge Serbia into Shock, Dismay”, AP News,, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.09.2023).

[2] Aynı yer.

[3] “Ukidanje rijalitija u fokusu protesta ‘Srbija protiv nasilja’ ispred Pinka”, Radio Slobodna Evropa,, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.09.2023).

[4] “BLOG: Zvanično kraj šestog protesta, najavljen novi za sledeću nedelju”, N1 Info, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.09.2023).

[5] “Serbian President Announces Snap Parliamentary Elections”, Anadolu Agency,, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.09.2023).

[6] Nenad Kulačin, “I Srbija se mijenja: Izbori umjesto protesta”, Al Jazeera Balkans,, (Erişim Tarihi: 14.09.2023).

Mustafa Çuhadar, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi İngiliz Dili ve Edebiyatı Bölümü mezunudur. Lisans döneminde disiplinlerarası çalışmalarına ağırlık veren Çuhadar'ın başlıca çalışma alanları, Balkanlar ve İstihbarat çalışmalarıdır. 2021 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü’nde yüksek lisans eğitimine başlayan Çuhadar, halihazırda Bosna Hersek’teki siyasi partileri inceleyen yüksek lisans tezini hazırlamaktadır. Çuhadar, iyi derecede İngilizce, Boşnakça, Hırvatça ve Sırpça ve temel seviyede Almanca bilmektedir.