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Serbian Radical Party

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Serbian Radical Party
Српска радикална странка
Srpska radikalna stranka
PresidentVojislav Šešelj
Deputy PresidentAleksandar Šešelj
Founded23 February 1991 (1991-02-23)
Split from
HeadquartersMagistratski trg 3, Belgrade
NewspaperVelika Srbija
Paramilitary wingWhite Eagles (1991–1995)
Political positionFar-right
Colours  Blue
Slogan"Србија је вечна док су јој деца верна"
("Serbia is eternal while its children are loyal")
Anthem"Spremte se spremte"
National Assembly
0 / 250
Assembly of Vojvodina
0 / 120
City Assembly of Belgrade
1 / 110
Party flag

The Serbian Radical Party (Serbian Cyrillic: Српска радикална странка, romanizedSrpska radikalna stranka, abbr. SRS) is a far-right,[1] ultranationalist[2] political party in Serbia. Founded in 1991, its co-founder, first and only leader is Vojislav Šešelj.[3]

The SRS was founded in 1991 as a merger of the Serbian Chetnik Movement, led by Šešelj, and the People's Radical Party, led by Tomislav Nikolić. Upon formation, they became the president and deputy president of SRS respectively. During the first half of the 1990s the SRS supported the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia regime, which had contributed greatly to the rise of SRS through the use of media.[3] The party had strong support until the 2000 election, when SRS suffered a major defeat, but through populist rhetoric it became the most voted party in the early-to-mid 2000s. Šešelj voluntarily surrendered to the ICTY to defend himself against charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity that he was alleged to have committed during the Croatian War of Independence and the Bosnian War. Nikolić assumed de facto party leadership until he left the party in 2008.[4]

During the years of Nikolić's leadership, SRS blended ultranationalism with brash, populist, and anti-corruption rhetoric.[5] Due to disagreements with Šešelj over European Union integration, Nikolić took many of the high-ranking members of the party to form the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which became the ruling party of Serbia in 2012. After the split, Dragan Todorović assumed de facto leadership, and the party went into a major decline, only pulling 4% of the vote in 2012 and 2% in 2014, the first time that SRS was not represented in the parliament. Shortly after Šešelj's return to Serbia in 2014, the party gained back some of its popularity and it placed third with 8% of the vote in the 2016 election.[6] In late 2019, the party went into decline again, and in the 2020 election it ended up only with 2% of the vote and gaining no seats in the parliament again.

A right-wing populist party,[7][8][9] SRS supports the creation of a Greater Serbia.[10][11] It is Eurosceptic, anti-Western orientated, opposed to the accession of Serbia to the European Union and supports establishing closer ties with Russia instead.[12][13][14] Some journalists described SRS as neofascist in the 1990s due to its vocal support of ultranationalism.[15][16][17][18] Regarding social issues, SRS is traditionalist.[19] It also holds local branches in some of the neighbouring states.


Vojislav Šešelj, president of the Serbian Radical Party, is one of the staunchest advocates of Greater Serbia.

The party's core ideology is based on Serbian nationalism and the goal of creating a Greater Serbia.[10][11] The party is also strongly opposed to European integration (euroscepticism[13]) and globalisation,[20][21][22] advocating closer ties with Russia instead.[20][22] The SRS is extremely critical of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where Šešelj was incarcerated from 2003 to 2014.[23] The party regards former general Ratko Mladić and former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadžić as "Serbian heroes".[24][25]

In 2007, the party advocated the use of military force to prevent the independence of Kosovo.[20]

Due to Tomislav Nikolić's support for the accession of Serbia to the European Union conflicting with the party's original hardline policy, Nikolić was expelled in 2008. With his supporters breaking apart from the SRS, he founded the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS)[4] which succeeded the SRS as one of the country's leading parties.

In the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, SRS was briefly associated with the Free Democrats Group in 2019.[26]



The symbol of the Serbian Radical Party

The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) was formed on 23 February 1991 by the merger of Vojislav Šešelj's Serbian Chetnik Movement (SČP) and the National Radical Party (NRS).[27] The SČP had been formed in 1990, although it was denied official registration due to its overt identification with the historical Chetniks. Formation of the new party followed Šešelj's breakaway from the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) due to internal quarrels with Vuk Drašković; the SPO having been founded by the merger of Šešelj's former Serbian Freedom Movement and Drašković's faction from the Serbian National Renewal.[27] Šešelj was chosen as the first president of the SRS while Tomislav Nikolić, a member of the NRS, became deputy president.[27]

Rise under SPS[edit]

Led by Milošević, the Socialist Party (SPS) contributed greatly to the rise of the SRS through its use of the media.[3] With the SRS allowed to promulgate its ultranationalist views on state television, the SPS could present itself as a comparatively moderate, yet still patriotic party.[28] Šešelj promoted popular notions of an "international conspiracy against the Serbs," the foremost of which involved Germany, the Vatican, the CIA, Italy, Turkey, as well as the centrist Serbian political parties. Such conspiracy theories were also promoted by Milošević-controlled media.[29] In 1991, Šešelj became a Member of Parliament as an independent candidate,[30] and created a belligerent image by engaging in physical fights with opponents of the government.[29]

The Serbian Radical Party headquarters in Zemun, Belgrade

The 22.6% of the vote won by the SRS in the 1992 parliamentary election confirmed the party's rapid rise and made it the second largest parliamentary party.[31] Šešelj campaigned for the election on issues such as driving Albanians out of Kosovo to Albania, expelling Muslims from Sandžak, and forcing the Croats out of Vojvodina.[32] Having helped engineer the party's election to parliament,[28] the SPS formed an informal coalition with the SRS,[33] and collaborated on ousting moderate politicians from public office.[28][34][35]

Milošević breaks with SRS[edit]

By late 1993 the parties had turned against each other.[28][34][36] Milošević saw it necessary to change his policies and distance himself from the SRS in order for his new peacemaking orientation to be taken seriously by the West, as well as to counter the effects of United Nations sanctions against the country.[36] Many socialists also feared competition from the party based on its strong growth record.[36] As discord erupted among the opposition including the SRS, Milošević called new elections in 1993. These cut SRS support almost in half, while the SPS increased its share of the vote from 28% to 38%.[37] Although most people had grown tired of the wars, UN sanctions and the catastrophic economic situation, the SRS had also been subjected to powerful state propaganda and exclusion by the media.[38] Following Milošević's agreement to the Dayton accords in 1995 to bring peace to Bosnia, Šešelj denounced Milošević as "the worst traitor in Serbian history", and likened the event to Serbia's greatest defeat since the Battle of Kosovo fought against the Ottoman Empire in 1389.[34]

In 1995, Šešelj and the SRS joined in a technical coalition with the centrist Democratic Party (DS) and the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).[39] This gave Šešelj a degree of democratic legitimacy, although the coalition withered away by the end of the same year.[39]

Kosovo war and Milošević's overthrow[edit]

When Šešelj beat the SPS candidate for the 1997 presidential election, despite the contest being declared invalid due to low turnout, he was again brought into the Serbian government.[34] In 1998 the SRS and SPO entered the so-called "war" government, and as Deputy Prime Minister, Šešelj passed new information laws and helped launch propaganda offensives against Kosovo Albanians.[40] U.S. officials in turn branded him a "fascist", while the U.S. Department of State declared that they would never deal with him.[34] Following the 1999 NATO occupation of Kosovo, Šešelj resigned from government until his party was enticed to re-enter the administration by the SPS.[40] As the party had held posts under Milošević's regime, it was excluded from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), and suffered a major defeat in the 2000 parliamentary election when Milošević was ousted.[40][41]

Indictment of Šešelj[edit]

During the Yugoslav Wars some SRS supporters including Šešelj were active in paramilitary units loyal to the federal government, serving as his "iron fist" during military campaigns.[20][42] Milošević's regime at times supported Šešelj and provided him with arms, whilst at others it accused him of war crimes.[43] The SRS was also provided with resources to establish paramilitary volunteer forces such as the White Eagles.[28] As the SRS protested against Milošević's extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2001, Milošević urged his supporters to vote for the SRS rather than his own SPS.[20] The ICTY also indicted Šešelj, who has been on trial since 2007 following his surrender in 2003.[44] Deputy President Nikolić became the new de facto SRS leader and presented a more moderate face, with a new approach to international cooperation and a vision of Serbia acting as a "link between the West and the East."[45]

SRS supporters demonstrating against Kosovo's declaration of independence, Belgrade, 2008

Nikolić leadership[edit]

During the 2003 parliamentary election, the SRS condemned cooperation with the war crimes tribunal, corruption scandals in government, poor living standards, and slightly moderated its formerly aggressive rhetoric.[41] While it won a clear plurality with 28% of the vote and 82 seats, the party was still viewed as a pariah by its democratic rivals and was thus left in opposition.[41] In the 2007 parliamentary election it won 29% of the vote and 81 seats. The SRS caucus in parliament elected Nikolić as its president and Aleksandar Vučić vice-president. Nikolić was later chosen as parliamentary speaker, supported by the DSS amidst a deadlock in coalition talks.[46] He stepped down just five days later, as the DS and DSS agreed to form a coalition government.[47]

At the National Assembly's first session on 14 February 2007, politicians voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal by UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari on the preliminary resolution of the status of Kosovo.[48] New elections were called in 2008 as the DS-DSS coalition collapsed due to EU recognition of Kosovo's declaration of independence.[49][50] In the 2008 parliamentary election the SRS again won 29% of the vote, and 78 seats, leading to the formation of a DS-SPS-led government coalition.[51][52] The party also won 17 seats in the Kosovska Mitrovica-based Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija consisting of Kosovan Serb municipalities who defied Kosovo's declaration of independence.[53]

2008 split[edit]

After disagreements with Šešelj, on 8 September 2008, Nikolić formed the new parliamentary group Napred Srbijo! ("Forward Serbia!") along with a number of other SRS members.[21] Šešelj responded with a letter on 11 September addressed to SRS members, in which he condemned the Nikolić group as "traitors" and "Western puppets", while calling on SRS members to remain loyal to the ideologies of "Serbian nationalism, anti-globalism, and Russophilia."[21] Nikolić and his group were officially expelled from the SRS the next day,[21][54] in response to which Nikolić announced that he would form his own party.[55] On 14 September, SRS general secretary Aleksandar Vučić also resigned from the SRS.[21][56] Nikolić and Vučić then launched the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) on 21 October of the same year.[57][58]

Following their departure, Dragan Todorović took over as the party's acting leader from Nikolić;[59][60] however the office of deputy chairman was officially abolished.[61] By April 2011 the SRS had about 7% of support in opinion polls, while the SNS and its coalition partners held about 40%.[62][63] In the 2012 parliamentary election the Radical Party received only 4.63% of the popular vote, thus failing to cross the 5% threshold to enter parliament for the first time in the party's history.[64]

Šešelj's return[edit]

With their leader back in Serbia in 2014, the party campaigned for the parliamentary election of 2016 aiming to restore its presence prior to 2008.

The party formed an alliance with the ruling Serbian Progressive Party for the 2023 Belgrade City Assembly election.[65]

International relations[edit]

The Serbian Radical Party maintains ties with the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and had ties with the French National Front party in the 1990s.[20][39][66] The SRS also has minimal ties with the far-right Golden Dawn party in Greece, focusing on religious similarities, and the Forza Nuova party in Italy.[67]

The party counted Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party as one of its political and financial backers until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as the parties found common cause in defiance of the United States.[20] Similar sentiment led the party to back Libya's Muammar Gaddafi following the 2011 military intervention in Libya by NATO. Serbia and Libya had maintained good relations since Gaddafi vocally opposed NATO intervention in Serbia in the 1990s, while he also backed Serbia's opposition to Kosovo's independence.[68] The SRS has also expressed support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad following the Syrian Civil War.[69] Šešelj advocates for a neutral position on the Israel-Palestine conflict, balancing Serbia's strong relations with both countries.[70]

On 9 March 2016 Šešelj and Zmago Jelinčič, president of the Slovenian National Party, signed an agreement with the intention of bringing their parties closer in terms of partnership and political alliance.[71]

List of presidents[edit]

# President Birth–Death Term start Term end
1 Vojislav Šešelj[nb 1] A photo of Vojislav Šešelj from 2020 1954– 23 February 1991 Incumbent

Acting leaders during the incarceration of Šešelj[edit]

Šešelj was incarcerated at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 2003 to 2014. Ref:[72]

# Name Birth–Death Term start Term end
1 Tomislav Nikolić[nb 2] A photo of Tomislav Nikolić from 2012 1952– 24 February 2003 5 September 2008
2 Dragan Todorović[nb 3] A photo of Dragan Todorović from 2013 1953– 5 September 2008 26 May 2012
3 Nemanja Šarović[nb 2] A photo of Nemanja Šarović from 2011 1974– 26 May 2012 12 November 2014

Electoral results[edit]

Parliamentary elections[edit]

National Assembly of Serbia
Year Leader Popular vote % of popular vote # # of seats Seat change Status
1992 Vojislav Šešelj 1,066,765 24.04% Increase 2nd
73 / 250
New Support
1993 595,467 14.43% Decrease 3rd
39 / 250
Decrease 34 Opposition
1997 1,162,216 29.26% Increase 2nd
82 / 250
Increase 43 Government
2000 322,333 8.81% Decrease 3rd
23 / 250
Decrease 59 Opposition
2003 1,069,212 27.98% Increase 1st
82 / 250
Increase 59 Opposition
2007 1,153,453 29.07% Steady 1st
81 / 250
Decrease 1 Opposition
2008 1,219,436 30.10% Decrease 2nd
78 / 250
Decrease 3 Opposition
2012 180,558 4.83% Decrease 7th
0 / 250
Decrease 78 Extra-parliamentary
2014 72,303 2.08% Decrease 11th
0 / 250
Steady 0 Extra-parliamentary
2016 306,052 8.34% Increase 3rd
22 / 250
Increase 22 Opposition
2020 65,954 2.13% Decrease 8th
0 / 250
Decrease 22 Extra-parliamentary
2022 82,066 2.22% Decrease 9th
0 / 250
Steady 0 Extra-parliamentary
2023 55,782 1.50% Increase 8th
0 / 250
Steady 0 Extra-parliamentary

Years in government (1991– )[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

President of Serbia
Election year Candidate 1st Round 2nd Round Results
# Votes % Votes # Votes % Votes
1990[a] Vojislav Šešelj 96,277 1.98% Lost Red XN
1992[b] Slobodan Milošević 2,515,047 57.46% Won Green tickY
Sep 1997[c] Vojislav Šešelj 1,126,940 28.36% 1,733,859 50.62% Won Green tickY
Dec 1997 1,227,076 32.87% 1,383,868 38.81% Lost Red XN
Sep 2002[c] 845,308 23.74% Lost Red XN
Dec 2002[c] 1,063,296 37.10% Lost Red XN
2003[c] Tomislav Nikolić 1,166,896 47.87% Won Green tickY
2004 954,339 30.97% 1,434,068 46.03% Lost Red XN
2008 1,646,172 40.76% 2,197,155 48.81% Lost Red XN
2012 Jadranka Šešelj 147,793 3.96% Lost Red XN
2017 Vojislav Šešelj 163,802 4.56% Lost Red XN
2022[d] Aleksandar Vučić 2,224,914 60.01% Won Green tickY
  1. ^ Supported Vojislav Šešelj as independent candidate.
  2. ^ Supported SPS candidate.
  3. ^ a b c d Election declared invalid due to low turnout.
  4. ^ Supported SNS candidate.

Positions held[edit]

Major positions held by Serbian Radical Party members:

President of the National Assembly of Serbia Years
Tomislav Nikolić
Mayor of Novi Sad Years
Milorad Mirčić 1993–1994
Maja Gojković 2004–2007

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Incarcerated at the ICTY from 24 February 2003 until 12 November 2014
  2. ^ a b Deputy President
  3. ^ Vice President
  1. ^
    • Reinhard Heinisch; Emanuele Massetti; Oscar Mazzoleni, eds. (2019). The People and the Nation: Populism and Ethno-Territorial Politics in Europe. Routledge. ISBN 9781351265546. The program of the radical right-wing SRS was founded upon the same principles.
    • Kolstø, Pål (2009). Media Discourse and the Yugoslav Conflicts : Representations of Self and Other. Ashgate. p. 106. ISBN 978-0754676294.
    • Collective (2005). Serbia since 1989: politics and society under Milošević and after. University of Washington Press. p. 372. ISBN 978-0295986500.
    • Michael Minkenberg (15 April 2014). Historical Legacies and the Radical Right in Post-Cold War Central and Eastern Europe. Columbia University Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-3-8382-6124-9.
    • Džuverović, Nemanja; Stojarová, Věra (2022). Peace and Security in the Western Balkans: A Local Perspective. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781000628722. Although far-right parties are numerous throughout the region, they can boast no real successes, with the exception the far-right Serbian Radical Party (Srpska Radikalna Stranka, SRS)
    • Sōtēropulos, Dēmētrēs A. (2023). The irregular pendulum of democracy: populism, clientelism and corruption in post-Yugoslav successor states. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 146. ISBN 9783031256097.
    • Levitsky, Steven; Way, Lucan A. (2010). Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War. Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9781139491488.
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  30. ^ Bugajski 2002, p. 415.
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External links[edit]