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More than 8,300 polling stations open for early parliamentary elections in Serbia

April 24, 2016, 8:40 UTC+3 BELGRADE

The Serbian Republican Electoral Commission announced more than 6.7 million eligible voters have the right to cast ballot at the elections

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BELGRADE, April 24 /TASS/. Early parliamentary elections began in Serbia on Sunday. Following the elections, the country will have a new government. More than 8,300 polling stations opened at 7a.m. local time on Sunday.

The Serbian Republican Electoral Commission announced more than 6.7 million eligible voters have the right to cast ballot at the elections. The polling stations will close at 20:00 (21:00 Moscow time). A total of 8,378 polling stations, including 38 abroad, will be open in Serbia and foreign countries. The Commission should announce the results no later than 96 hours after the vote is over, i.e. before 20:00 local time on April 28.

A total of 3,270 candidates representing 20 party tickets will run for 250 seats in Skupshchina, the Serbian parliament. Experts and analysts unanimously predict the victory of the "Aleksandar Vucic - Serbia Wins" coalition, which the Serbian prime minister has formed on the basis of his Serbian Progressive Party. Many political scientists believe that Vucic was the one who initiated the parliamentary elections two years ahead of schedule with an aim to consolidate power at a time when his party seems to be the most popular political force in Serbia. During his election campaign Vucic stressed many times that Serbia’s EU membership was the Serbian Progressive Party’s strategic goal but that it also wanted to preserve good relations with Russia and attract more investments into the country.

The parties are to surpass a 5% threshold to be able to get into parliament. The deputies are elected for four years.

Dejan Djurdjevic, the head of the Serbian Republican Electoral Commission (RIK) said 1,687 Serbian and 196 foreign observers, including Russians, had been accredited to monitor the elections.

On March 3, 2016, Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic sent an official offer to President Tomislav Nikolic to dissolve parliament and call in early parliamentary elections. The government "needs a clear mandate of confidence to complete the reforms it has started and bring Serbia to the doors of the European family of peoples (EU)," Vucic said.

On March 4, President Nikolic dissolved parliament and set April 24 as a date for early parliamentary elections. He expressed the hope that even after the elections Serbia would continue the reforms it had started and would follow the path on which it had embarked. Nikolic said that the Serbian reforms were serious and difficult.

The new parliament is to gather for the first session no later than 30 days since the vote results are officially published. The government should be formed no later than 90 days since the first parliamentary session takes place. The constitution provides for a possibility to disband parliament if the deadline for forming the government is broken.

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