Almost final results confirm populist victory in Serbia while opposition claims fraud

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The preliminary official vote count of Serbia's weekend election was confirmed on Monday. Ruling populist party wins Political tensions rose over alleged irregularities in parliamentary voting in the Balkan country, but in the capital, Belgrade.

An opposition group that has been stripped of its victory in local elections in Belgrade says it will not recognize the results and will demand a re-vote.

Populist President Aleksandar Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party faced off against the Serbia Against Violence opposition coalition in parliamentary and local elections in the Balkan country on Sunday.

According to the State Election Commission's almost complete preliminary count, Vucic's SNS party won about 47% of the ballots in the parliamentary vote, followed by Serbia Against Violence with 23%.

Several other smaller parties also participated in the election, which was held only 18 months after the previous presidential and parliamentary voting.

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If confirmed in the final vote count, the result means the SNS party will have an absolute majority in the 250-member parliament and will form the next government on its own.

Official results for City Hall in Belgrade have not yet been announced, but projections from polling agencies IPSOS and CESID state that SNS won 38% of the ballots cast in Belgrade, while Serbia Against Violence won 35%. However, Serbia Against Violence claimed fraud, citing multiple reports of irregularities during the campaign and on voting day.

Irregularities were also reported by election observers and independent media. One claimed that ethnic Serbs from neighboring Bosnia were brought en masse to Belgrade to vote. Serbia Against Violence alleged that 40,000 identity documents were issued to people who do not live in the capital city.

Another report said a surveillance team was attacked in a town in northern Serbia and their car was hit with baseball bats. There have also been allegations of paying or pressurizing voters to vote for the ruling party.

The independent Research, Transparency and Accountability Group, which monitors elections in Serbia, said, "The problems that arose on election day on December 17 were particularly serious in Belgrade, which were primarily intended to influence citizens' electoral will. Was born from."

Vucic and his party have denied the allegations.

The opposition said it would lodge official complaints and called for street protests later on Monday.

"The overproduction of voters who do not live in Serbia, let alone in Belgrade, is a gross abuse of the law," opposition politician Marinika Tepic said on Monday. People."

The election did not involve the presidency, but was campaigned as a referendum on Vucic by government officials, supported by prominent pro-government media.

The pro-EU group Serbia Against Violence includes parties that were behind Street protests for months In May this year, two mass shootings occurred one after the other.

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