Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will ask his party to authorize him to call early parliamentary elections two years before his term ends as he maintains a strong lead in opinion polls despite growing criticism of his policies. The ruling Progressive Party’s board is scheduled to meet Jan. 17 to “discuss the political situation,” it said in an e-mailed statement in Belgrade on Wednesday. The prime minister wants approval to initiate elections before his party’s congress on Feb. 13, with the actual ballot to be held later. Vucic’s party, together with some small political groups, controls 135 seats in the 250-member parliament.
The biggest former Yugoslav republic, which is targeting European Union membership by 2020, is trying to repair the economy after three recessions since 2009. Vucic reached a three-year accord with the International Monetary Fund last year to stabilize public finances and unlock growth. He must still tackle issues including bad loans and unprofitable companies as the government is struggling to sell state assets.
“Vucic and his party have for long considered calling early general elections because they want to reap the fruits of their popularity, which according to many opinion polls exceeds 50 percent both for the party and their leader,” Milan Nikolic, the director of the Center for Policy Studies in Belgrade, said by phone. This move is meant to ensure a fresh four-year term for Vucic, Nikolic said.