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The Republic of Serbia is a parliamentary democracy, with a formal seperation of powers among the three branches of government – the executive, legislative and judicial. Most executive powers lie in the hands of the Prime Minister and Government, who are elected by Parliament. The Serbian Parliament is the highest legislative body and has 250 MPs elected to four year terms. The President of Serbia is directly elected and has a five year mandate, with a two term limit.

The current President is Aleksandar Vučić, elected in the election held on April 2, 2017, in which he secured an absolute majority of votes in the first round of voting. The last Parliamentary elections were held on April 24, 2016, with the coalition around the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) winning 131 out of 250 seats, securing an absolute majority. Despite this, the SNS decided to form a governing coalition with the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and with the support of several parties representing the national minorities of Serbia.

Serbia began its transition from Communism towards Parliamentary democracy with the first multiparty elections held at the end of 1990. At the time, Serbia was still part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, unlike many other countries of Central and Eastern Europe where the collpase of Communism ended in the establishment of democratic political systems, a new type of authoritarian political system was established in Serbia under the rule of Slobodan Milošević. Only with the elections of 2000, when Slobodan Milošević was toppled from power, did Serbia embark on its transition towards a democratic political system.

In the post-2000 period, Serbia made significant progress in consolidating democracy and democratic institutions. Nevertheless, following the SNS’ coming to power in 2012, and particularly after 2014 when the party secured an absolute majority in Parliament, democratic freedoms began to weaken. The level of the country’s democratic freedom according to Freedom House declined during 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, reaching the lowest level since 2004. The level of media freedom, according to this and other relevant international reports (e.g. Reporters Without Borders or IREX’s Media Sustainability Index) also fell drastically.

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