Independence Day: June 05, 2006
Head of state: Aleksandar Vucic
Head of government: Ana Brnabić
Political system: parliamentary democracy
Democracy Status Index (BTI): Rank 36 (from 137 – 2020)
Corruption Index (CPI): Rank 91 (from 180 – 2019)
The Serbian Constitution of 2006 defines the Republic of Serbia as a parliamentary democracy and defines its most important institutions – the president, the government, the parliament, the judiciary, the security organs subject to democratic control – and the administrative structure of the state. The current constitution of Serbia has numerous weaknesses that affect the stability of the constitutional order and go back to the context in which the constitution was created. This was determined on the one hand by the disintegration of the state union of Serbia with Montenegro, on the other hand by the threatened state independence of Kosovo. In particular, the character of the constitution as a political-ideological instrument against the independence of the former Serbian province and the haste with which the constitution was drafted and passed in just a few weeks, caused their poor quality. There are numerous contradicting regulations, the distribution of powers between the two executive organs – the president and the government – is in some cases not clearly separated, and the scope of territorial decentralization is not clearly regulated. In addition, there are democratically problematic regulations such as political control over the appointment of judges and public prosecutors and the control of parliamentary parties over the mandates of their representatives. According to constructmaterials, Serbia is urged to make changes to its constitution in the context of EU accession negotiations in order to remedy the most important weaknesses.
Serbia officially consists of 174 units of local self-government – 150 municipalities (over 10,000 residents), 23 cities (over 100,000 residents) and the capital Belgrade, which has a special status. However, 29 cities and municipalities are located in Kosovo, which has been declared independent. In addition, the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina has certain rights of self-government. At the regional level there are also 24 counties – 7 in Vojvodina and 17 in central Serbia (and 5 in Kosovo, which is claimed by Serbia). These are administrative units without self-administration rights.
The Republic of Serbia is a centralized state with a central government level and the municipal level. The municipalities have the status of a unit of local self-government, but their powers are limited. There is also a larger number of districts, but these are purely administrative units or statistical regions without self-administration rights.
Despite the strong traditions of historical regions, including those with a high proportion of ethnic minorities, and decentralization, the political elites are using the pretext of the conflict over Kosovo to prevent regionalization of the state structure.
The province of Vojvodina lost its autonomy under the Milošević regime, which led to the emergence of a strong autonomy movement in the 1990’s. With the constitution of 2006 Vojvodina was given back its autonomous status, the province should get a new statute. The granted competencies, however, lag far behind political demands from the region. At the same time, implementation, such as the adoption of the new statute, has since been delayed by the political elite in the capital Belgrade.
The Sanjak located in the Serbian-Bosnian-Montenegrin border region with a historically strong Muslim population (Bosniaks) goes back to Ottoman administrative structures. In the 1990’s there was discrimination, interethnic tensions and the spread of ethnic cleansing from neighboring Bosnia. In 2008, the current government politically integrated the chairmen of the two Bosniak parties with ministerial posts, but the problem of the structural disadvantage of Muslims in the Sanjak has not been addressed. As a result, a populist movement has emerged in the last 2-3 years under the leadership of the head of the Islamic community in the Sanjak, Muamer Zukorlić, which demands an autonomous status for the region.
In the Preševo region of southern Serbia, a region bordering Kosovo with a high proportion of Albanians, the conflict in Kosovo at the beginning of the last decade resulted in armed conflicts between the Albanian population and the authorities. This was settled with the help of international mediation, and the Albanian population was granted certain special rights.