Home World News In Serbia, environmentalists want to create surprise at the polls

In Serbia, environmentalists want to create surprise at the polls


As the elections on Sunday 3 April approached, the militant youth of Belgrade met in the cultural center of Dorcol Platz, on a Friday in March, to listen to the candidates of the ecologist and progressive coalition Moramo (literally ” We must “).

Born in January 2022 from the union of three civil society organizations for the protection of the environment, Moramo hopes to turn the page of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the nationalist formation in power since 2012 in Serbia.

Moramo could enter Parliament

If the battle for the presidency is lost in advance – the polls announce the victory of the outgoing head of state, Aleksandar Vucic (SNS), in the first round – Moramo should enter Parliament this Sunday, and could even , as part of an alliance with the other opposition forces, create surprise in Belgrade.

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I believe in change. In recent months, major environmental protests have taken place in Serbia, and people have become more aware of the issues that affect us, from air and water pollution to resource exploitation. natural”, explains Sanja Iguman, researcher at the University of Belgrade, who decided, for the first time, to engage in politics with Moramo.

Since September 2021, tens of thousands of Serbian citizens have demonstrated on several occasions, in particular against the opening, by the Australian company Rio Tinto, of a lithium mine in the west of the country. Under pressure, the Serbian government finally abandoned this project in early 2022.

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” Peace. Stability. »

Galvanized by this success and inspired by the journey of Croatian environmentalists from Mozemo (“We can”), who in May 2021 won the municipal election in Zagreb, Moramo activists now want to turn years of activism into a first concrete political result. A study, which we carried out at the end of 2021, shows that environmental protection is now among the top priorities of Serbian citizens,” explains Simon Ilse, director of the Heinrich-Böll Foundation in Belgrade, according to which “An ecological disaster is happening in Serbia”.

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With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, however, geopolitical issues have imposed themselves in the Serbian electoral campaign. President Aleksandar Vucic condemned the Russian invasion, without imposing sanctions against Moscow, a traditional ally and a crucial energy partner, while the city of Belgrade was the scene, on several occasions, of demonstrations sometimes pro-Ukrainian, sometimes prorussians.

Abroad, this ambiguous position of Serbia has raised criticism, but at home the head of state claims to be ” non Aligned “ and ” balance “ between the two blocks, as in the days of Tito’s Yugoslavia. ” Peace. Stability. Vucic » is moreover the slogan chosen by the Serbian president, who was Milosevic’s communication minister.

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The culture of early elections

In power for ten years, both as minister, president and prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic brings rain and shine to Belgrade, and this electoral appointment, announced once again before the end of the parliamentary mandate, is the evidence. “Since 2000, all legislative elections, except one, have been early elections”, noted the Council of Europe delegation, which visited Serbia at the beginning of March.

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On average, since the fall of Milosevic in 2000, Serbian voters have elected their MPs every two and a half years. “Although it is legally possible, the ‘culture’ of early elections has an impact on the autonomous and efficient functioning of Parliament”, regrets the Council of Europe delegation. In the last legislative elections in 2020, the opposition having chosen to boycott the poll, Vucic and his allies had won some 230 seats out of 250. This time, the Serbian Parliament will also have an opposition. And maybe even an environmentalist opposition.

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