BELGRADE (Reuters) - The new Serbian government will be in power for less than two years, half of its regular term, Aleksandar Vucic, the country's president and the head of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) said on Tuesday.
Vucic's party won a landslide victory in June, but he said the next parliamentary vote would be held by April 3, 2022 at the latest, along with presidential elections, as a test of SNS's popularity.
Vucic, who was speaking after meeting the party's leadership in Belgrade, is performing a delicate balancing act by pushing for Serbian membership of the European Union and maintaining close ties with China and Russia.
"We will have to pass many important laws on the way to the EU and then the people would say with whose work they are satisfied with," he told a news conference.
Serbia was the first country in Europe to hold elections since the coronavirus pandemic started. Major opposition parties boycotted the vote to protest against Vucic’s control of the media. Vucic rejected those claims.
After the elections, Vucic's opponents held demonstrations in Belgrade, protesting against the government's policies, including its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
If Serbia wants to join the EU it needs to normalise ties with Kosovo, its former southern province, which gained independence in 2008, improve rule of law and root out organised crime and corruption.
The new government, which will be led by Ana Brnabic, will be made up of the SNS, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the small Serbian Patriotic Alliance (SPAS), and representatives of national minorities. Half of the posts will be held by women, Vucic said.
With the SNS's overwhelming parliamentary majority, the approval of Brnabic’s new cabinet, expected by next Wednesday, is a formality.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Jane Merriman)