aleksandar vučić.jpg
Photograph: POOL/ HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ /ds

The oft-fragmented Serbian opposition united against Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic with a rally of thousands on Saturday to protest alleged manipulation of early elections on April 24 and urge support for a critical upcoming repeat vote.

Around 2,000 people gathered in front of the state election commission seat in central Belgrade, heeding a call from leaders across the political spectrum, including anti-Western and pro-Russian extremists and pro-EU leftists.

The opposition accuses Vucic of manipulating the result of Sunday's early elections in order to eliminate the far-right Dveri movement from parliament and benefit from the redistribution of their seats.

According to the provisional result, Dveri was a single ballot short of reaching the 5-per-cent threshold for entering parliament and taking 13 seats.

Vucic's Progressive Party (SNS) won 48.2 per cent of the vote, but because several other parties reached 5 per cent, the SNS tally dropped from 158 to 131 seats of parliament's total 250.

Election authorities ordered a repeat vote at 15 polling stations where complaints of voting irregularities were reported.

Of Serbia's 6.7 million registered voters, around 18,000 will be eligible to cast ballots in the repeat vote on May 4.

If Dveri fails exceed 5 per cent on Wednesday, the SNS will get seven of the 13 seats that become available and would strengthen its majority.

"We believe that Vucic manipulated these elections. We are here to prevent that," Sasa Radulovic of the reformist newcomer Enough party told the opposition rally in Belgrade. "We are going to these [partial repeat] elections together."

Radulovic and other leaders urged supporters to turn out and back Dveri, ensuring that the far-right party enters parliament and prevents Vucic from expanding his majority.

Another ticket that joined the rally, led by former president Boris Tadic, is also in the danger zone ahead of the repeat vote, floating just a few hundred votes above the 5-per-cent mark.

With the two sides straddling the threshold of parliament doors, the final result will have to wait until the repeat vote and its legal aftermath, which may again take several days due to complaints.

According to partial results, Vucic's SNS has 138 seats, the Socialist Party (SPS) 31, the far-right Radical Party (SRS) 23, Enough (DJB) and Democrats 17 and Tadic's group 14.

If Dveri clear the hurdle on Wednesday, the SNS will lose seven seats, the Socialists and Radicals two, and all others one seat. 

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