Serbian Progressive Party

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Serbian Progressive Party

Српска напредна странка
Srpska napredna stranka
AbbreviationSNS
PresidentAleksandar Vučić
Deputy PresidentJorgovanka Tabaković
Vice PresidentsMarija Obradović
Marko Đurić
Miloš Vučević
Milenko Jovanov
Parliamentary leaderAleksandar Martinović
FoundersTomislav Nikolić
Aleksandar Vučić
Founded21 October 2008; 12 years ago (2008-10-21)
Split fromSerbian Radical Party
HeadquartersPalmira Toljatija 5, Belgrade
Membership (2020)750,000[1][2][3][4]
IdeologyPopulism[5]
Neoliberalism[6]
Conservatism[7]
Pro-Europeanism[8]
Political positionBig tent[9][10][a]
National affiliationFor Our Children
European affiliationEuropean People's Party (associate)
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Colours  Red   Blue
National Assembly
157 / 250
Assembly of Vojvodina
65 / 120
City Assembly of Belgrade
64 / 110
Party flag
Flag of the Serbian Progressive Party
Website
www.sns.org.rs

^ a: SNS is a catch-all party, but it has been described by many as centrist,[11][12][13][14] centre-right[15][16][17] and right-wing.[18][19][20][21]

The Serbian Progressive Party (Serbian: Српска напредна странка, romanizedSrpska napredna stranka; abbr. СНС or SNS) is a populist political party in Serbia which has been the ruling party since 2012.

Founded in 2008 as a split from the far-right Serbian Radical Party (SRS), the culmination of a decade-long conflict within the SRS between the party's moderate and hard-line wings, the SNS managed to retain the former's national conservative outlook, while adopting distinct pro-European and economic liberal policies. Tomislav Nikolić served as the party president until he got elected as the President of Serbia in 2012. After his resignation, former Deputy President Aleksandar Vučić was elected as the new president of the party. After coming to power in 2012 they became the ruling party of Serbia. Having over 750,000 members as of 2020 places SNS as the biggest party in Europe (excluding United Russia). They have adopted numerous populist policies as well as becoming a major big tent party in the country.

They are the leading party in the current government coalition which includes left-leaning and right-leaning political parties that support the current President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and his party. As of November 2020, the party holds 157 seats in the National Assembly while the whole coalition holds 188 out of 250 seats which makes Serbia a dominant-party state in which the opposition in parliament only holds 7 seats.[22]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Tomislav Nikolić and Aleksandar Vučić at the SNS founding convention on 21 October 2008

The conflict between Tomislav Nikolić and Vojislav Šešelj came to light after Nikolić's statement that the radicals in the National Assembly would support the Stabilisation and Association Process into the European Union, which met the resistance from Šešelj and his loyal followers.[23]

On September 5, 2008, Nikolić resigned as the head of the parliamentary group and Deputy President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), and shortly after he founded the parliamentary group called "Forward, Serbia" (Serbian: Напред, Србијо, romanizedNapred, Srbijo).[24] A week later, on the September 12, the SRS leadership loyal to Šešelj expelled Nikolić and nine other supporters from the party and because of it the status of the parliamentary seats of SNS was disputed, because the SRS demanded the return of 22 seats.[25]

After Nikolić resigned, he was later joined by the former SRS General Secretary Aleksandar Vučić, and immediately at the beginning of the newly formed parliamentary group they were approached by the Vice President of the National Assembly Božidar Delić. The Serbian Progressive Party was officially founded on October 10 by the 21 former MPs after they were registered as a political party, and the party's founding assembly was held on October 21, 2008.[26] Since the Serbian Progressive Party was formed out from a far-right party, it was labeled in the early days as a right-wing moderate since it retained the national conservative outlook while adopting new pro-EU policies and balanced relations with Russia.

2012–2014: Elections and their first government[edit]

SNS stand in Novi Sad during the 2012 election

In 2011, the SNS formed a pre-election big tent coalition with the right-wing New Serbia, the centrist Strength of Serbia Movement and the left-wing Movement of Socialists to participate in the 2012 election. From early 2011 until April, they organized protests in front of the RTS building demanding to hold elections in late 2011 because of their claim that "the President of Serbia Boris Tadić held a monstrous campaign against Nikolić" and also because of the "worsening system in Serbia that was caused by the Democratic Party".[27][28] During this period, the SNS gained more and more supporters from the voters since "the citizens were unhappy and that the average net salary in Serbia kept decreasing during the period" and many opinion polls even started putting Nikolić in the lead.[29] In early 2012 they would be officially forming the coalition under the name "Let's Get Serbia Moving" (Serbian: Покренимо Србију, romanizedPokrenimo Srbiju) after some minor parties joined the coalition.[30] In May 2012, it was reported that SNS already had 340,000 members.[31]

Parliamentary election[edit]

The parliamentary election was held on the 6 May 2012, in which the Serbian Progressive Party participated under its big tent coalition called "Let's Get Serbia Moving". At the press conference, the Deputy President Aleksandar Vučić announced that they won the election with 24.4% of the vote even though they reported that there was vote fraud.[32][33][34] The coalition ended up getting 24.05% of the popular vote and 73 seats in the parliament while the Serbian Progressive Party gained 55 seats.[35] Soon after the election ended, the Serbian Progressive Party-led coalition formed a coalition government with the Socialist Party of Serbia and the United Regions of Serbia.[36]

Presidential election[edit]

The presidential election was held on the 6 May and later again on the 20 May. The first runoff was held on the same day as the parliamentary election but since there was no candidate that won the majority, they ended up calling a second runoff on the 20 May, between the incumbent President Boris Tadić and the Serbian Progressive Party nominee Tomislav Nikolić. On the 20 May, Nikolić defeated Tadić after winning 1,552,063 votes in the second runoff of the election.[37]

Leadership change[edit]

Following the presidential election, Nikolić stepped down as the president of the party and resigned from it.[38] The Deputy President Aleksandar Vučić served in charge as the President of the party until the successor was elected.[39] Vučić ended up being the only one who ran for the party leadership, and was elected on the 29 September 2012, with Jorgovanka Tabaković as the Deputy President of the party.[40] Later in the December of the same year, the People's Party led by the former Mayor of Novi Sad Maja Gojković, merged into the Serbian Progressive Party.[41]

Formation and the first SNS-SPS government[edit]

The government was officially formed on 27 July 2012 after a majority vote in the National Assembly and was composed of the SNS-led "Let's Get Serbia Moving" coalition, the SPS-PUPS-JS coalition and United Regions of Serbia. Nikolić appointed the President of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) as his Prime Minister while the Deputy President of the SNS, Aleksandar Vučić, was appointed as the First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia.[42][43][44] One of the main priorities that this government promised was the integration of Serbia into the European Union, normalizing relations with the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo[note 1], fighting against crime and corruption and economic reforms.[45][46] In reality, there were no economic reforms during this period and the government even continued with the neoliberal system, which was implemented by the Democratic Party government in 2008. Initially, the government had 17 ministries and 19 members of the ministries. In September 2013, the government was reshuffled after the United Regions of Serbia moved to the opposition and the government then added one more ministry and three more members.[47][48] This government ended up lasting only for almost two years. In the early 2014, SNS and SPS announced that the government and the parliament will be dissolved because of "insufficient political legitimacy".[49] On the 29 January, President Nikolić formally dissolved the parliament and the next parliamentary election was called to be held on 16 March.[50]

Although the Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić, held the power as the head of the government, many analysts described that Vučić had the most influence in the government because he was the head of the largest party in the governing coalition.[51]

2014–2016: Establishment of the dominance[edit]

Parliamentary and Belgrade elections[edit]

Belgrade Waterfront scale model, exposed in the building of Belgrade Cooperative

The parliamentary election was held on 16 March, in which the Serbian Progressive Party participated under its big tent coalition that they formed back in 2011. This time, the coalition was renamed to "Future We Believe In" (Serbian: Будућност у коју верујемо, romanizedBudućnost u koju verujemo) and two new parties joined the coalition, the Social Democratic Party of Serbia (SDPS) led by Rasim Ljajić and Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) led by Vuk Drašković.[52] Vučić gained more support during this period, especially after jailing the billionaire oligarch Miroslav Mišković.[53] The "Future We Believe In" coalition ended up winning a majority of the seats in a landslide, winning 48.35% of the vote and 158 seats in the National Assembly while the SNS alone won 126 seats, marking the first electoral landslide since the 2000 parliamentary election.[54] Since winning a majority vote, Vučić announced that the will be negotiating with leaders of other parties and Socialist Party of Serbia ended up being the only one that accepted the offer to join their government.[55][56]

On the same day, election was held in Belgrade to elect a new Mayor. The election was supposed to take in late 2013 after Dragan Đilas lost a non-confidence motion in the City Assembly, but the Temporary Council headed by Siniša Mali ended up ruling until the election happened. The SNS-led coalition won the election with 43.62% of the vote and 63 seats in the City Assembly. Mali ended up becoming the mayor officially and will serve that role until 2018.[57]

Second SNS-led government[edit]

The second SNS-led government was formed on 27 April 2014 after a majority vote in the National Assembly and was composed of the SNS-led "Future We Believe In" coalition and the SPS-PUPS-JS coalition.[58] Vučić was elected as the Prime Minister and the government was stable for the most of the time.[59] The new SNS-led government adopted new laws that were needed for the future EU membership, and sought to implement a new agreement on normalizing ties with Kosovo[note 1].[60] Their priorities temporarily shifted when the catastrophic floods hit the country and pushing the economy deeper into recession.[61] The government's plan was to attract foreign investors and to improve its business and environment, but they failed terribly to complete the large privatizations that were promised by SNS. The government ended up initiating a controversial project called Belgrade Waterfront (Serbian: Београд на води, romanizedBeograd na vodi) in 2014 after an agreement with a private investment and development company called "Eagle Hills". The investment is focused on the creation of new luxury city buildings and malls. The project gained attention after many organizations accused the development of money laundering and corruption,[62][63] lack of good urbanists, architects and economists,[64][65][66][67] and demolition of many houses and buildings and in 2016 even a murder happened, which were organized by unknown personas who were never found.[68][69][70][71] Protests were organized following these controversies which were headed by the "Do not let Belgrade d(r)own" organization.[72] The government sought public support for austerity measures and for an arrangement with the International Monetary Fund. In 2015, Serbia was named as a semi-consolidated democracy and was still described under the democratic category.[73] In early January, Vučić called for a snap election because he thinks that "Serbia still needs four more years of stability to enter the European Union" and in March the parliament was dissolved.[74]

2016–2020: Elections, protests and new president[edit]

2016 parliamentary election[edit]

The parliamentary election was held on 24 April 2016,[75] initially scheduled for March 2018 until Vučić called for a snap election in early January 2016. SNS participated again under its big tent coalition that has existed since 2011, this time under the name "Serbia Is Winning" (Serbian: Србија побеђује, romanizedSrbija pobeđuje).[76] They were also joined by the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia (PUPS) led by Milan Krkobabić and Serbian People's Party (SNP) led by Nenad Popović. The coalition ended up winning 48.25% of the vote and 131 seats in the National Assembly while SNS alone won 93 seats[77] but this time they ended up winning more votes than on the last parliamentary election. Vučić announced that the government will be formed in June[78] but due to "external pressure" the government was formed in early August.[79][80] The Socialist Party of Serbia remained as a government member and this time they were also joined by Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians.[81] Non-governmental organizations and all of the opposition parties, except the Serbian Radical Party, accused the ruling party of election theft, and manipulation of votes which the Serbian Progressive Party constantly denied.[82][83][84]

Third SNS-led government[edit]

Vučić with Putin in 2017

The third SNS-led government was formed on 11 August 2016 after a majority vote in the National Assembly and was composed of the SNS-led "Serbia Is Winning" coalition and the SPS-PUPS-JS coalition, which has been in power since 2012.[85][86] Vučić remained the position as the Prime Minister and the new government had 16 ministries.[87] During this period, Vučić concentrated power for himself and Serbia has been also experiencing lack of independent media and shift to authoritarianism and because of it it was described as partly-free.[88][89][90] The SNS-led government continued to display intolerance to criticism from opposition parties, independent media and ordinary citizens and independent government bodies such as Ombudsman.

On the 30 May Vučić resigned from the post of the Prime Minister after the presidential election in which he won and Ivica Dačić assumed the trial post which he held until 29 June.[91][92]

2017 presidential election[edit]

Cooperation[edit]

The Serbian Progressive Party maintains cooperation with the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, Fidesz, Freedom Party of Austria[93] and United Russia party.[94] On 24 April 2013 the SNS' representatives in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe joined the Group of the European People's Party.[95]

On 18 March 2019 the Serbian Progressive Party in Belgrade signed a joint statement with the United Russia party to improve Russia-Serbia strategic partnership in the interests of both nations.[96]

Allegations of crime and corruption[edit]

The SNS has been widely accused of connections with crime and corruption, erosion of Serbian rule of law, and a drift towards authoritarianism.[97][98][99]

Freedom House's annual Nations in Transit report in the beginning of 2020 reported that, due to democratic backsliding, Serbia was no longer a democracy (as they had been classified since 2003) but had instead become a hybrid regime (in the "gray zone" between "democracies and pure autocracies"). The report cited "years of increasing state capture, abuse of power, and strongman tactics employed" by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. "Although the current SNS-led government came to power in 2012 promising to battle Serbia’s widespread corruption, the problem appears to have worsened, not improved, in the years since."[100] University of Gothenburg's V-DEM institute Deputy Director Anna Luhmann said that "the indexes of liberal democracy" have drastically deteriorated in Serbia, from 0.53 in 2009 to 0.25 in 2019 becoming the lowest in Western Balkans, putting it on 139th place of 179 countries ranked, therefore labeling it an "electoral autocracy", "mainly due to media censorship, the government's attempt to influence the work of the media", but also "a reduced space for the work of civil societies and academic institutions" as well as “the concern over the quality of the election system." [101]

Various media owned by people linked to be close to the party have been sold to the state-owned Telekom for prices ten times their estimated worth, effectively transferring public money into hands of several individuals while capturing media into government control. One of the largest examples is the purchase of "Kopernikus Corporation", which was sold for staggering 195.5 million euros, while experts estimate that it is worth much less.[102][103] Other examples include the purchases of "Radijus Vektor", sold for 108 million euros, of "Wireless Media", sold for 38 million euros, and various acquisitions of minor cable television and internet providers (such as Avcom d.o.o, Belgrade, Radijus Vektor d.o.o, Belgrade, Masko d.o.o, Belgrade BPP Ing d.o.o and Grocka).[104] The aforementioned acquisitions led to the worsening of Telekom's financial situation, leading the company to issue bonds of value 23.5 billion dinars[105] to refinance debts. The Serbian Anti-Corruption Council, however, remained silent.[106] In 2017, President Vučić labeled N1, the main Serbian independent media, a "Luxembourg TV with American capital" and a "CIA controlled TV".

Presidents of the Serbian Progressive Party (2008–present)[edit]

No. President Birth–Death Term start Term end
1 Tomislav Nikolić Tomislav Nikolić, official portrait.jpg 1952– 21 October 2008 24 May 2012
2 Aleksandar Vučić Aleksandar Vučić MSC 2019 (cropped).jpg 1970– 24 May 2012 Incumbent

Electoral performance[edit]

Parliamentary elections[edit]

National Assembly of Serbia
Year Leader Popular vote % of popular vote # of seats Seat change Coalition Status
2008 Tomislav Nikolić Split from the Serbian Radical Party
21 / 250
Increase 21 opposition
2012 940,659 24.05%
58 / 250
Increase 37 PS government
2014 Aleksandar Vučić 1,736,920 48.35%
128 / 250
Increase 70 BKV government
2016 1,823,147 48.25%
93 / 250
Decrease 35 SP government
2020 1,953,998 60.65%
157 / 250
Increase 64 ZND government

Years in government (2012–)[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

President of Serbia
Year Candidate 1st round popular vote % of popular vote 2nd round popular vote % of popular vote
2012 Tomislav Nikolić 2nd 979,216 25.05% 1st 1,552,063 49.54%
2017 Aleksandar Vučić 1st 2,012,788 56.01% N/A

Positions held[edit]

Major positions held by Serbian Progressive Party members:

President of Serbia Years
Tomislav Nikolić 2012–2017
Aleksandar Vučić 2017–
Prime Minister of Serbia Years
Aleksandar Vučić 2014–2017
Ana Brnabić 2017–
President of the National Assembly of Serbia Years
Nebojša Stefanović 2012–2014
Maja Gojković 2014–2020
Governor of the National Bank of Serbia Years
Jorgovanka Tabaković 2012–
President of the Government of Vojvodina Years
Igor Mirović 2016–
Mayor of Belgrade Years
Siniša Mali 2014–2018
Zoran Radojičić 2018–

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.

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