Serbia's prime minister promises new-style government

Reuters News
Posted: May 24, 2016 9:32 AM

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic promised a more open style of government on Tuesday, saying he would meet citizens as early as 5 a.m. to hear their concerns and offering to talk to all political parties as he prepares to form an administration.

Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won nearly 50 percent of the votes in last month's general election, securing 131 seats in the 250-seat parliament and enabling him to continue as prime minister for a second four-year term.

"I will invite all (political parties) for talks about Serbia's future next week," Vucic told a news conference, adding that a final decision on potential coalition partners would be taken at an SNS board meeting on Saturday.

In his first term he opted for coalition government to provide political support for a series of tough reforms, such as cuts in jobs, pay and pensions.

Vucic said he would encourage ordinary Serbians to raise everyday problems with him in areas such as public services and healthcare.

"I will talk to citizens from 5 a.m. until 8 a.m., at least one day a week," he said. "And from 8 a.m. I will be able to carry out my other duties."

He said ministers would work in towns outside the capital for a week every few months to listen to people there.

"We would be staying in army barracks to bring the cost of our stay to a minimum," he said.

Vucic's opponents accuse him of authoritarianism, including strong control of media, charges the government denies.

An ultra-nationalist during Yugoslavia's wars of the 1990s, Vucic performed a political U-turn in 2008 and embraced Serbia's drive to join the European Union.

He has rebranded himself as a conservative reformer committed to cutting the budget deficit and debt and to shrinking the public sector.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Giles Elgood and Gareth Jones)