Rigged Elections? A Chronology of Serbia’s Post-Election Crisis (24–30 April)

A chronology of Serbia’s post-election crisis, prepared by the Balkanist team.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) enjoys the greatest support of any party in Serbia by far, and there was no uncertainty as to who would win the election on 24 April 2016. However, it was less certain whether Vučić’s SNS would secure a majority of seats in Parliament without the coalition partners from its electoral list, and, in particular, whether this would amount to a 2/3 majority required for making changes to the Constitution.

In Serbia, a D’Hondt system of turning election votes into parliamentary seats is in place, favoring the largest party. Under this system, most of the votes below the threshold are transferred to the largest party. The key issue in this election therefore was whether the “smaller” lists (DS, DJB, DSS-Dveri, SDS-LDP-LSV) would pass the threshold. This is a crucial question because it determines whether Vučić will have a majority in Parliament and, if so, under what conditions. For example, if all smaller parties clear the threshold following the repeat vote at 15 polling stations (due on 4 May 2016), Vučić’s coalition will be downsized to 131 seats (out of the overall 250 seats), with SNS alone receiving 98 seats. From 2012 to 2014, Vučić’s list held 158 seats, and his SNS alone had 131 MPs. Under the new circumstances, Vučić would lose a significant amount of power, because he will be forced to make concessions to numerous coalition partners as well as another big parliamentary party (most likely SPS). At the same time, falling below the threshold would pose serious existential questions to the smaller parties, all of them already facing financial and organizational crises.


Key Actors

CeSID (Centar za slobodne izbore i demokratiju / Center for Free Elections and Democracy) is a non-governmental organization specialized in election monitoring. Following the 2014 elections in Serbia, CeSID’s long-standing director Marko Blagojević was made a high-ranking official in the Serbian government. Given that he has recently been a close associate of Aleksandar Vučić, observers doubted CeSID’s impartiality in producing election polls and monitoring the fairness of the electoral process.

RIK (Republička izborna komisija / Republican Electoral Commission) is an institution responsible for election processes and promulgation of official election results. In contrast to many European states, Serbian RIK is not a professional body – its members are nominated by political parties. In this election, ruling SNS holds influence over RIK, whose president, Dejan Djurdjević, is a high-ranking SNS official and member of the Serbian government, in the position of President of the Secretariat for Legislation.


Key Political Parties

SNS (Serbian Progressive Party) – the ruling party, led by Aleksandar Vučić.

DJB (Enough is Enough) – a recently formed reformist movement of Saša Radulović, an expert who served as Minister of Economy for four months in late 2013 and early 2014.

DS (Democratic Party) – an opposition party of pro-EU orientation.

DSS (Democratic Party of Serbia)-Dveri – a coalition of two right-wing parties, one being Eurosceptic (DSS) and other anti-EU (Dveri).

SDS-LDP-LDV (Social Democratic Party, Liberal Democratic Party, League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina) – a coalition of pro-EU parties, with former president Boris Tadić as the leading figure.

SPS (Socialist Party of Serbia) – most recently, SPS has held a number of ministerial positions in the Serbian government under Aleksandar Vučić (2012–2014), though its support was not required for the government’s formation.

SRS (Serbian Radical Party) – Vojislav Šešelj’s ultranationalist party.


Sunday, 24 April (election day) 


Polling stations close.



CeSID announces preliminary results, according to which:

SNS won 56.2% of votes,

SPS won 10.9%,

SRS won 7.3%,

DS won 5.7% of votes.

All other parties are below the threshold (DSS-Dveri 4.4%, SDS-LDP-LSV 4.1%).



DS spokesperson Aleksandra Jerkov doubts the regularity of the electoral process.



SPS states that, according to a sample of 15% of the polling stations, they won more than 12% of votes.



DSS-Dveri insist that their data differ considerably from CeSID’s results, pointing out that based on a sample of 12% of the vote, the results are:

SNS – 55.49%,

SPS – 14.09%,

SRS – 7.35%,

DSS-Dveri – 6.32%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 4.66% (with a possibility of crossing the threshold).


DSS-Dveri adds that there were numerous irregularities during the electoral process.



New results by CeSID; based on a sample of a 56.6% of the votes, the results are:

SNS – 51.5%,

SPS – 12.4%,

SRS – 7.7%,

DS – 5.4%,

DSS-Dveri – 5%.


SDS-LDP-LSV and DJB do not cross the threshold, with 4.8% and 4% respectively.



Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) announces its projections. According to a 62.1% sample (excluding big cities), the results are:

SNS – 52.95%,

SPS – 12.14%,

SRS – 7.48%,

DS – 5.82%.

SDS-LDP-LSV and DSS-Dveri, as well as DJB, fail to pass the threshold (with 4.9%, 4.78% and 3.98% respectively).

Irregularities were observed at 4.9% of the polling stations.



New results by CeSID, based on a 65% sample:

SNS – 51%,

SPS – 12.10%,

SRS – 7.7%,

DS – 5.5%,

DSS-Dveri – 5%.


SDS-LDP-LSV got 4.8% and DJB 4.3% (still below the threshold).

CeSID adds that results from larger areas (including Belgrade and Vojvodina) are still lacking, explaining that the current results could vary (+/- 1 or 1.5% for each party) and concluding that it might not have the final results by the end of the day, as “three parties are close to passing the threshold.”



Aleksandar Vučić (SNS), the acting Primer Minister, says that he is “touched and proud of the election results,” and that “they represent a big honor but also a responsibility”. He adds that his party won 50.9% of vote and that DJB, DSS-Dveri and SDS-LDP-LSV did not cross the threshold.

Vučić concludes that the election process was fair and transparent.



Bojan Pajtić (DS) insists that the election process has been far from fair, announcing the filing of at least eight complaints.



Saša Radulović (DJB) says that DJB has definitely passed the threshold. He severely criticizes CeSID’s behavior and their allegedly fake projections, adding that Vučić is obviously in trouble and is trying to hide something. According to Radulović, Vučić has lost considerable power in Parlaiment, while the other lists – DS, DSS-Dveri, SDS-LDP-LSV, have crossed the threshold. Radulović says “this is the beginning of a breakdown of SNS.”



DSS-Dveri say that they have crossed the threshold. They also announce that someone fired multiple shots at the house belonging to their major representive in Kosovo.



SRS comes out with its projections, based on 4.25% of the vote:

SNS – 55.2%,

SPS – 13.98%,

SRS – 9.2%,

DSS-Dveri – 6.6%,

DJB – 4.8%,

DS – 4.8%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 4.69%.



Leaders of SDS and LDP address the audience for the first time. They say their coalition has entered Parliament, objecting to the chaos and reaction of state institutions regarding the reporting of election results.



CRTA comes out with new projections, based on a 96% sample from 450 polling stations:

SNS – 48.59%,

SPS – 11%,

SRS – 7.86%,

DS – 6.09%,

DJB – 5.81%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.09%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.05%.



A DS representative calls the decision made by RIK not to publish any results four hours after the closing of polling stations scandalous. DS invite other members of the opposition to an urgent meeting.



RIK finally appears with its first projection on election night (based on a 27.25% sample):

SNS – 49.3%,

SPS – 12.1%,

SRS – 7.94%,

DS – 6.13%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 4.97%,

DJB – 4.94%,

DSS-Dveri – 4.91 %.



Leaders of the opposition (DS, DSS-Dveri, DJB, SDS-LDP-LSV) appear at RIK headquarters, demanding information about the counting of the votes.



RIK holds a press conference, with updated results (based on 42.85% of the vote):

SNS – 48.88%,

SPS – 11.96%,

SRS – 7.96%,

DS – 6.05%,

DJB – 5.18%.

According to these results, DSS-Dveri have 4.88% and SDS-LDP-LSV 4.95%.


Monday, 25 April


New RIK results, according to an 83% sample:

SNS – 48.26%,

SPS – 11.37%,

SRS – 7.97%,

DS – 6.11%,

DJB – 5.71%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 4.98%,

DSS-Dveri – 4.95%



New RIK results (based on 94.44% of the vote):

SNS – 48.26%,

SPS – 11.02%,

SRS – 8.03%,

DS – 6.07%,

DJB – 5.94%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.02%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.01%



New RIK results, based on a 96.23% sample:

SNS – 48.28%,

SPS – 11.02%,

SRS – 8.04%,

DS – 6.04%,

DJB – 5.95%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.02%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.00%.



An update by RIK, based on a 97.46% sample:

SNS – 48.25%,

SPS – 11.01%,

SRS – 8.05%,

DS – 6.05%,

DJB – 5.99%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.03%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.00%.


According to these results, the distribution of seats in Parliament (total of 250 seats) would be:

SNS (including their coalition partners) – 131

SPS – 30

SRS – 21

DS – 16

DJB – 16


DSS-Dveri – 13



Following calls from opposition leaders, RIK President Dejan Djurdjević states that he will allow all interested parties access to the sacks containing the ballots.



CRTA presents its final projections, according to which seven lists entered Parliament:

SNS – 48.4%,

SPS – 10.77%,

SRS – 8.05%,

DS – 6.18%,

DJB – 6.09%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.15%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.04%.



Marko Djurić, an SNS official and Director of the Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija announces that “SNS achieved a historic victory in Kosovo and Metohija, with 67.09% [of the vote].”



Aleksandar Vučić characterized the election as the “most democratic ever”, but also added that “some parties managed to meet the threshold under strange circumstances” and “some weird things happened during the night [last night].”

Vučić said that only two appeals were made regarding possible irregulaties and that both of them were submitted by SNS representatives, not the opposition. 

“I would rather give up ruling ever again than steal a single vote!” Vučić declared.

President of RIK, Dejan Djurdjević was filmed arriving at SNS premises before a meeting of the Presidency started:

RIK President Dejan Djudjevic arrives at the offices of SNS (Photo credit: opozicionar.com)
RIK President Dejan Djudjevic arrives at the offices of SNS (Photo credit: opozicionar.com)


An update by RIK; according to 98.56% of the vote, all major parties are above the threshold:

SNS – 48.23%,

SPS – 10.98%,

SRS – 8.09%,

DS – 6.04%,

DJB – 6.03%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.03%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.00%

Just 15 minutes before the deadline for appeals expires, RIK President Dejan Djurdjević repeats what Vučić previously said – that only two complaints regarding the regularity of the election were filed: a detail that, in his view, confirms that the elections were fair.



New Party, a coalition partner of DS, says that they themselves filed three complaints about irregularities during the election process, insisting that the RIK president was not telling the truth when discussing the number of appeals.


Tuesday, 26 April


Pro-government media accuse US Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott of “trying to fix the election outcome, favoring parties that struggled to pass the threshold.”



The SNS legal team filed a request to count the votes all over again. Observers described this request as unusual, noting that this must be the first time ever that the ruling party accuses the opposition of rigging the elections.



Insider, a famed team of investigative journalists, calls the post-electoral events “a farce.” In one piece of commentary, they provide a retrospective of the timing when RIK announced preliminary results in the previous nine elections in Serbia (from 2003 to 2016). The review shows that in the most recent elections on Sunday 24 April 2016, RIK addressed the public conspicuously late – more than two hours after the standard 22h timeslot:

Elections Preliminary results announced Sample of polling stations
2016 (parliamentary) 00.10h 27.25%
2014 (parliamentary) 22h 18.89%
2012 (presidential) 22h 51.51%
2008 (parliamentary) 22h 6.97%
2006 (constitutional) 22h 25.08%
2004 (presidential) 21h 4.74%
2003 (parliamentary) 22h 9.92%



RIK announces an update, based on 98.04% of polling stations:

SNS – 48.26%,

SPS – 10.97%,

SRS – 8.11%,

DS – 6.06%,

DJB – 6.05%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.04%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.00%.


Since RIK had announced earlier that they had results from 98.56% of polling stations, many questioned how RIK’s sample was now smaller (98.04%), accusing the commission of “counting backwards.”

At a press conference, a RIK member complained that not all of them had access to the poll books and voting data. She also asked how it is possible RIK managed to analyze a 98% of the data in a short period of time and then it did not manage to analyze the remaining 2% in two full days.


Wednesday, 27 April

During the day, RIK reveals that it has received over 60 appeals regarding the election and, given their seriousness, it would have to decide whether to repeat the voting at the specified polling stations or simply annul votes.

Opposition parties are dismayed by the announcement because it was the president of RIK himself who two days before had said he had only received two complaints. In a live program, when a RIK member asked RIK President Djurdjević why he decided not to inform them about the numerous complaints, he replied: “I didn’t know about all this either – don’t you realize the kind of chaos we’ve been going through?”

Later that day, RIK decides to consider repeating voting at the polling stations that had reported serious irregularities. In summary, during its second gathering, RIK decided (1) to hold a new round of voting at more than 10 polling stations (on 4 May 206), (2) to annul votes in some other places, and (3) to review the validity of existing votes in others by ‘reconstructing’ the votes in those places.

Some members of RIK object to this approach, calling it illegal and highly arbitrary.

The president of RIK, in a post-electoral RIK session, holding a pencil with a SNS logo
The president of RIK, in a post-electoral RIK session, holding a pencil with a SNS logo



RIK states that based on 98.64% of polling stations reporting, the results are:

SNS – 48.24%,

SPS – 10.95%,

SRS – 8.11%,

DS – 6.04%,

DJB – 6.04%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.03%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.01.



DSS-Dveri claim that Aleksandar Vučić urged RIK to revisit the results by simply annulling the votes in places where DSS-Dveri received significant support.


Thursday, 28 April

The deadline for RIK to publish the final results expires at midnight.



Boris Tadić, the former president of Serbia and now leader of SDS-LDP-LSV, states that numerous irregularities have been discovered.

He cites the case of one SDS member, former minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanović. He voted with his wife in the municipality of Leposavić, but according to the post-election count, it turned out that at this polling station the SDS coalition did not get a single vote.

Later on, DSS-Dveri leader Boško Obradović plays a video in which he was counting votes at the same polling station, demonstrating that SDS-LDP-LSV had 60 votes, not zero.

Other opposition parties also reported irregularities they managed to spot. However, Šešelj’s SRS did not join the opposition in their efforts to prove the wrongdoings. In fact, he threatened that should DSS-Dveri manage to pass the threshold, he would stage street demonstrations and “cause bloodshed”.

The opposition parties assessed Šešelj’s approach to the elections as a favor to Vučić.



An update by RIK (98.64% sample):

SNS – 48.24%,

SPS – 10.95%,

SRS – 8.11%,

DS – 6.04%,

DJB – 6.04%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.03%,

DSS-Dveri – 5.01%.


02:30 (early Friday)

Following a rather long meeting, RIK reports the final results (excluding the 15 polling stations where the election will be repeated on 4 May 2016):

SNS – 48.24%,

SPS – 10.96%,

SRS – 8.11%,

DS – 6.03%,

DJB – 6.04%,

SDS-LDP-LSV – 5.02%,

DSS-Dveri – 4.99%.

Here, the big news is that according to RIK, the DSS-Dveri coalition was below the threshold due to a single missing vote (it won 4,999999999% of the vote). The coalition’s reaction was fierce, including Boško Obradović’s verbal assault on key RIK members in which he called them thieves responsible for election fraud.


Friday, 29 April

The fate of DSS-Dveri, who according to RIK currently have 4,999999% of votes, will be decided in the repeat voting, which will be held on 4 May 2016.

In 16 polling stations across the country, more than 19,000 voters will cast their ballots in these repeated elections. While SDS-LDP-LSV, who barely managed to cross the threshold, will enter Parliament even if they win zero votes (provided the turnout is less than 80%), Dveri-DSS will need 491 votes (with a 50% turnout) or 737 votes (with a 75% turnout).

DS leader Bojan Pajtić calls on his party supporters to vote for DSS-Dveri in order to “prevent Vučić’s manipulations” and to “defend the citizens’ will, regardless of the fact that DS differs greatly from DSS-Dveri in terms of values, program, and ideology.”

DJB announces that it would also join DS in helping DSS-Dveri to “defend the citizens’ will.”


Saturday, 30 April

The opposition holds a rally in Belgrade, protesting the alleged electoral fraud. Leaders of DSS, DJB, DSS-Dveri, and SDS-LDP-LSV harshly criticize Vučić, accusing him of destroying the basic principles of rule of law and democracy. Parallels were drawn between Slobodan Milošević’s election fraud in 1996 and the most recent election.

Opposition leaders demand the resignation of RIK President Dejan Djurdjević and the director of the Bureau of Statistics, for their involvement in the counting of votes in the elections.

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