International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Election boycott if we want normal Serbia, 1 in 5 million protesters say

September 7, 2019

Under the rain, lightning and thunderstorms, the 40th anti-regime Saturdays' civic protest #1 in 5 million started outside the Philosophy Faculty where it began last November, N1 reported.

 For months, the protests had to start from elsewhere for months due to reconstruction of the nearby Republic's Square.

The crowd was smaller than usual, and among the speakers, there were no public figures and opposition politicians, but only the protest's organisers.

Srdjan Markovic said that the boycott was inevitable "if we want to live a normal life."

"Those elections are a vote for local sharifs and distribution of plunder, and we will not allow that Serbia to becomes your pray," Markovic said, adding that "whoever takes part in the elections will be just another faction of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS)," led by President Aleksandar Vucic.

"We are sick of your lies and violence. We are not scared," Markovic added.

Following the addresses, people went for a walk to the Square whose reconstruction caused controversy over the cost, change in traffic around it and the new, totally different image.

The protest ended outside the state RTS TV building which the opposition and demonstrators blame for biased reporting and almost totally ignoring the nine months of weekly protests in Belgrade and in some other Serbia's towns.

People painted the RTS glass door in pink referring to pro-government tabloid Pink TV, saying that colour suited it better, adding that "today, RTS is SNS. 

The anti-government demonstrations were triggered by an incident in which hooded thugs heavily beat an opposition leader while he was coming for a meeting in the central town of Krusevac in November 2018.

They were first called "Stop to Bloody Shirts" since Borko Stefanovic's shirt was soaked in blood pouring from the back of his head. Later, after Vucic said he wouldn't cede to the protesters' demands even if five million of them gathered, the organisers renamed the rallies into #1 in 5 million.

Started as a civic protest, it later became a joint anti-Vucic demonstration by ordinary people and opposition.

The 1 in 5 million became an organisation, and together with some the opposition parties gathered in the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) drafted requests for freedom of media and changes in the electoral regulations.

Despite several round table discussions between the authorities and some opposition leaders, the latter said none of the demands was met and threatened to boycott the next spring general election in Serbia.

The 1 in 5 million already declared the boycott as did some opposition parties, while others said they would decide on the day when the elections were called.  

Source: http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a523997/Organisers-of-1-in-5-million-protests-say-election-boycott-for-normal-life.html

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