According to the preliminary results announced last night by the Republic Electoral Commission, 61.84% of the citizens voted in favour of the amendments to the Constitution that would change how judges and prosecutors are elected, while 37.10% voted against them.
Turnout was very low. Less than one third, or about 30%, of eligible voters took part in the referendum. In other words, the Act on the Change of the Constitution was confirmed by every sixth citizen with voting right.
However, Belgrade tells a different story. In the capital, over 45% of voters participated in the referendum, and the majority of them, or about 55%, voted against the Act amending the Constitution. The Act was rejected in Novi Sad and Niš, the second and third largest city in Serbia.
The public criticised the fact that instead of being announced by the Republic Electoral Commission, the preliminary results of the referendum were presented by President Aleksandar Vučić, who addressed the nation at press conference held at the headquarters of the Serbian Progressive Party. Hardly any of the TV stations in Serbia dedicated a special show to the referendum; most of the media decided to broadcast Vučić’s press conference instead.
According to the Republic Electoral Commission there were no major irregularities during the voting.
On the other hand CRTA, an organization that monitored the voting process, stated that irregularities of various types were recorded at 4% of polling stations. The organization estimates that the referendum voting was carried out poorly, pointing out that the polling stations were inadequately prepared and that the procedures for voting outside the polling station were violated. According to the same report, voting boards were incomplete at the time of opening at almost 30% of the polling stations, which indicates inadequate preparation of the bodies responsible for conducting the elections.
As we wrote earlier, the opposition was almost united on the issue of the referendum, so that four of the five pre-election opposition coalitions called on the citizens to participate in the referendum and vote “No”.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in Serbian on Jan 17, 2022.