Serbia's ruling party declares victory in boycott-tainted vote

Serbian Progressive Party won about 63 percent of votes in Sunday's polls, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says.

    Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has declared a landslide victory for his governing party in a parliamentary election tarnished by a boycott from much of the opposition, who accuse the leader of burgeoning authoritarianism.

    Vucic told jubilant supporters after Sunday's vote that his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won about 63 percent of the vote, or about 189 seats in the 250-member General Assembly.

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    While Vucic did not run for office himself, the 50-year-old heads the party, which has been in power since 2012. 

    "I am grateful to the people for this historic support," he said with elation from the SNS headquarters where brass music blasted in celebration.

    "We won everywhere," Vucic said. "We won in the places where we had never won before."

    The sweeping success was helped by a boycott from the country's main opposition camp, who decried the elections as neither free nor fair under Vucic.

    Despite the opposition's stay-at-home campaign and lingering concerns about the coronavirus, turnout was not dramatically lower than normal - at slightly less than 50 percent according to the independent election monitor CRTA. 

    The boycotting opposition criticised the "fake elections" and claimed their movement was victorious.

    Other winners

    In second place was the traditional junior coalition partner of the SNS, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), predicted to claim 32 seats, according to the IPSOS polling agency.

    And next in line was the only opposition party to garner enough votes to pass the 3-percent threshold to enter parliament: the newly-formed Serbian Patriotic Alliance (SPAS) with about a dozen seats.

    A slate of ethnic minority parties with a lower bar to entry will also take about 17 spots, according to IPSOS. 

    Among those who did not make the cut was the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, led by convicted war criminal Vojislav Seselj.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies