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Consolidating Power

Vucic’s campaign (despite the elections not being presidential) is being conducted like crisis management. The aim is to convince his supporters, and even more so the oppositions’, that everything is already known in advance and that the elections should just be held as a matter of routine

Such a campaign also implies emphasising that the Serbian President is the only reliable partner of the foreign factor that guarantees stability. This is admittedly contradictory: for the West, he provides stability in the region and a compromise policy regarding Kosovo; for Russia, he provides stability in terms of Serbia continuing to not impose sanctions against it, which is of symbolic importance.

Vučić treats cooperation with the West, which the stability of his regime depends on, as his exclusive zone. If the opposition (the real one) is pro-Western – that is treasonous. At the recently concluded Belgrade Wine Fair, held under the auspices of the Open Balkan initiative, Vučić didn’t give the impression of a man facing sanctions, though he certainly understood the messages on that issue that are being sent (after Vulin, the U.S. has imposed personal sanctions against Nenad Popović and Miša Vacić).

Although the opposition is attempting to relativise it, the annual report of the European Commission on progress achieved in the enlargement process represents a somewhat cynical incentive for Belgrade to supposedly approach the EU, which is why Vučić is able to say semitriumphantly: “We are advancing on the path to Europe; there are no measures or sanctions”

According to diplomatic sources – or at least as far as we’ve heard – “a line has been drawn under Banjska”. This means that Vučić received conditional support and wiggle room from the West. This support is also expressed in two words included in the European Commission’s report on Serbia: “limited progress”. Presumably, according to some logic, that should also mean a “limited regression” on relations with Russia. But in Vučić’s logic of the technology of governance (or its perception), it means no such thing. That geopolitical lionising is Vučić’s talent and the backbone of his catchall system of mutually reinforcing paradoxes.

Although the opposition is attempting to relativise it, the annual report of the European Commission on progress achieved in the enlargement process represents a somewhat cynical incentive for Belgrade to supposedly approach the EU, which is why Vučić is able to say semi-triumphantly: “We are advancing on the path to Europe; there are no measures or sanctions”.

Vučić announced at the opening of a new stadium in Zaječar, in the company of UEFA President Aleksandar Čeferin, that the national stadium in Belgrade will be completed by 1st December 2026, thereby suggesting to voters that there will be no significant political changes in Serbia prior to that time.

Vučić is allergic to the very notion of cohabitation. And it looks as though the West also isn’t calculating on having to reach a final agreement on Kosovo with a prime minister who comes from the ranks of the current opposition.

With the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, Kosovo’s position in the hierarchy of conflicts was diminished, which made it easier for Vučić to consolidate his position following the armed incident in Banjska. He announced the appointing of a prime minister from the Progressives following the election, but that doesn’t seem to have demotivated SPS leader Ivica Dačić, because his identical slogan from last year’s elections (Dačić-prime minister) is slightly more convincing today. Some would call that “sharing responsibility”

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