Vučić explains why he opted for early polls

BELGRADE -- Speedier reforms are needed in Serbia, and that can be achieved with a clear mandate, Aleksandar Vučić told B92 TV late on Sunday in Belgrade.

(B92)
(B92)

The leader of the ruling SNS party and the first deputy prime minister, who on Saturday announced that early elections would be called, at the same time denied reports in some media that there was already a deal in place on the composition of the next government.

On Sunday, the SNS Presidency unanimously supported Vučić's proposal to call early parliamentary elections.

"The main reason for this decision is that we have been talking for a long time about the atmosphere in the society, the opposition says that we have not done a good job... Speedier reforms are needed, we can do that with a new, full mandate," he said.

Asked whether the next time he was a guest on B92's talk show Utisak Nedelje he would come as Serbia's prime minister, Vučić said that depended "on the citizens."

Reacting to speculations that it had already been agreed who would be in a new government and that it Dačić's SPS party will again have ministers, while Vučić would take over the post of prime minister, he said this was "not true."

Asked whether Ivica Dačić performed poorly as head of government, Vučić said that he "could not possibly say that."

"A difficult and unpleasant campaign is ahead, because they will all unite in the fight against us, and I do not think that everything is certain," he said when asked if victory was "certain for the SNS."

Vučić said that he had no faith either in those opinion polls that showed his party had a 45 percent support, or "in the story that all surveys are rigged."

Vučić added that he and his coalition partners had achieved "some historic results," and that they would not be "spoken ill of." He noted that he had faced problems "in his own cabinet, among his people, and in the party."

Asked how he arrived at the decision in favor of early elections, considering that he only recently said there were "other priorities," Vučić stated that he "waited for the first intergovernmental conference in Brussels to pass, and only after that started considering whether elections could put brakes on some process that Serbia should go through."

"I thought about whether we would stop some important processes, I spoke with representatives of the IMF, the World Bank, the people involved in the talks with Priština, because of Chapter 35," he said, adding that it was estimated that "there are no obstacles."

"I made the decision primarily because of the atmosphere in which I saw that there was a saturation, among the citizens and in the government," he said.

He added that an IMF mission was coming in February and that he "accepted that they come before the finish of the campaign in an attempt to conclude an agreement."

"I think it's important for the country and will provide additional financial and investment security," Vučić said, adding that this would allow the World Bank to approve a EUR 500 million loan in April.

Vučić reiterated that PM Dačić had offered that he takes over as prime minister, but that he refused "because he wanted to assume that office by the will of the people, through elections."