BELGRADE -- Serbian pro-government and right-wing opposition figures have vowed to stage rival hunger strikes until their competing demands are met as supporters of each side staged protests separated by riot police in front of the parliament in Belgrade.
The political drama on May 11 came as President Aleksandar Vucic is facing a possible opposition boycott of parliamentary and local elections that could foreshadow an even deeper political crisis.
The right-wing Dveri movement, led by Bosko Obradovic, is demanding that elections scheduled for June 21 be postponed until autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic and what he says will be an unfair playing field for the campaign.
Serbia was in election campaign mode when a state of emergency was declared in March over the coronavirus, and elections scheduled for April 26 were pushed back to June 21.
Political observers say they expect Vuvic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party to come out on top if the vote is held on June 21. On the other hand, a delayed election could benefit the opposition if it were held during an anticipated recession caused by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, supporters of Vucic and his party want prosecutors to investigate Obradovic over an incident on May 8 when Dveri members got into an altercation with the health minister as he entered parliament.
Two members of parliament from the Serbian Progressive Party went on hunger strike on May 10 to protest the incident, the same day Obradovic and another opposition politician began a hunger strike over elections and the government’s stance on Kosovo, which they consider a breakaway state.
Vucic on May 11 urged all sides to stop any hunger strike and for the opposition to enter negotiations, while warning that all gatherings should end in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.