Monday, June 24, 2019
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In Serbia, the challenge against the government continues

For six weeks now, thousands of Serbs have taken to the streets every Saturday to demand the resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic.

Political violence, muzzling of civil society, increasing control of the media … The reasons for the anger of the opponents, multiple, are always denied by the power in place, which does not fear for its viability.

For Aleksandar Vucic, the president of Serbia, the situation is unprecedented: every Saturday, for the past six weeks, thousands of opponents are marching in Belgrade in a protest movement never seen since the beginning of the presidential term.

At the origin of the movement, the attack last November 23, Borko Stefanovic, a leftist leader. Since then, the Alliance for Serbia, a motley coalition of 30 political parties, has called for protests in the capital to denounce the authoritarian drift of the ruling power.

Denounce the "media blockade"

Since the first parade on December 8, the powerful policy of President Aleksandar Vucic, elected in the first round in April 2017 after being Prime Minister, is at the center of the demonstrations. According to the opposition, the Serbian government is at the origin of political violence, but also of the muzzling of the media and civil society.

Last example of this stranglehold: the recent acquisition of two of the five national television channels, via an operator, Kopernikus, led by a close to the regime. In the same way, radio stations and news sites were bought by members of the president's entourage.

All these facts make it possible to speak, according to the demonstrators, of media blockade ". In order to remedy the situation, they ask the authorities in particular to dismiss the leaders of the national public channel, the RTS. One of the leaders of the movement, the 40-year-old actor Branislav Trifunic, asked " at least 5 minutes of air a day In order to break the media gagging.

In Serbia, large-scale demonstrations against the government

" There is a real grip of power on public broadcasting in Serbia "Confirms Jacques Rupnik, research director at the Center for International Research Sciences-Po (CERI) and Balkan specialist. " Although there is no censorship per se, the main channels of information, which have the largest audiences, are controlled He confides.

The power in place little shaken

According to the organizers' figures, tens of thousands of people would participate in the Saturday parades in Belgrade. The authorities, for their part, maintain that they are only a few thousand.

One thing is certain: the movement represents the first wave of significant protests against Aleksandar Vucic since the spring of 2017. At that time, thousands of young people from Belgrade, mostly students, took to the streets in response to his electoral victory. The first parade of November 8 « took a lot by surprise, including among the leaders "Conceded Dragan Djilas, the former centrist mayor of Belgrade, to AFP.

The president, for his part, seems little shaken by the protests. He only hinted that he could call early parliamentary elections. " For Vucic, organizing such elections would not be very dangerous "Says Alexis Troude, Balkan specialist and director of the Department of Balkan Studies at the International Academy of Geopolitics in Paris. " He would surely win them again, because he is rather popular in the Serbian provinces, which are little involved in this movement finally very belgian who claims his resignation "Says the specialist.

Arm wrestling hardens between Kosovo and Serbia

For Jacques Rupnik, it is also unlikely that the government will fall. " The opposition coalition is very heterogeneous. It goes from the radical left to the radical right, and even includes individuals from the extreme right. To this day, it is not united enough to represent a credible alternative to the power in place, which is why it is not a threat. " He judge.

Anouk Helft



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