May 4, 2018 Belgrade

Serbian Capital Still in Dark About New Mayor

Despite its romp home in the recent local elections in Belgrade, Serbia's ruling party is finding it difficult to select the right person to run the capital.
Experts and media have been mulling over the candidacies of Irena Vujovic, president of the Belgrade municipality of Savski Venac, Milan Radojicic, head of the University Children’s Clinic, and Goran Vesic, the City Manager. Photo: Beta

Milan Radonjic

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Almost two months after the local elections in Belgrade on March 4, residents of the Serbian capital still do not know who their new mayor for the next four years will be.

Although Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party scored a clear victory in the local elections, and has an overwhelming majority in the city assembly to appoint new mayor, the party leader, President Aleksandar Vucic, has yet to name the person who – after the President and Prime Minister – will hold the third most prominent position in the country.

The mayor of Belgrade used to be elected directly, until December 2007, some five months before the local elections in May 2008, when Serbia’s parliament changed the election law to provide that, from then on, mayors would be elected by their local assemblies.

That change was strongly opposed by then opposition leader, two times failed candidate for the Mayor of Belgrade, and today’s President of Serbia – Vucic.

However, it is not the altered election law that is keeping residents of Belgrade in the dark about their new mayor.

Most experts say the final decision depends mostly on the will of Vucic, but also on the results of a previously announced government reshuffle.

The constitutive session of the Belgrade city assembly, scheduled for May 9, will elect a new president and secretary of the assembly. This will mark the start of the 30-day legal deadline for the election of a new mayor and city council.

Different political issues delay selection

Bojan Klacar, director of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CESiD), believes prolonging the election of a new mayor fits the wider political strategy of the Progressive Party.

“They have opened the process of selecting the candidate for the mayor in the context of the future government’s reshuffle,” Klacar told BIRN.

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