I wrote something about the elections happening in Central Eastern Europe, which are important. But first, please read Olga Lautman's Substack on the Bucha massacres. The images being circulated are graphic. "Ukrainian civilians were murdered and dumped in sewer shafts by Russian forces west of Kyiv. Some victims were tortured before they were murdered," Olga writes.
At least 280 people were discovered in a mass grave in Bucha. Russian President Vladimir Putin and the soldiers under his command are responsible for this.
People in Serbia and Hungary are heading to the polls today. There are presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections taking place in Serbia.
The opposition taking on Serbia's authoritarian leader Aleksandar Vučić is quite fractured. Still, the last parliament was dominated by Vučić's Srpska Napredna Stranka, or Serbian Progressive Party (which is not progressive by any usual standards), because the opposition boycotted the last elections altogether. That won't be the case this year.
In Hungary, an ideologically diverse coalition has banded together to back conservative candidate Péter Márki-Zay against right-wing populist Viktor Orbán.
Here's a quick primer on the elections. I'll have an in-depth article on the results for National Journal sometime on Monday, tomorrow...tomorrow is Monday ☕
Who is in power: President Aleksandar Vučić, whose Serbian Progressive Party has run the country for more than a decade. While in office, Vučić has cracked down on the free press and used state funds to campaign for office. He is also accused of widespread corruption and voter intimidation. A recent report from FPRI called Vučić's Serbia a "stalwart Russian and Chinese ally run by a semi-authoritarian government that proactively pursues ideologically irredentist territorial expansion in the Western Balkans."
His ruling center-right party has complete control over Serbia’s government, judiciary, and security services.
Who is in the opposition:
United Serbia: A center-left coalition led by retired General Zdravko Ponoš, the party's presidential candidate. They pose the biggest threat to Vučić.
National Democratic Alternative: A nationalist right-leaning group that is pro-monarchy.
Moramo: A new leftist green movement led mainly by people involved in the Ne Davimo Beograd (Don't Drown Belgrade)environmental movement in Serbia's capital.
I hear a lot of excitement about this group because they're young, enthusiastic, and new to Serbia's political scene.
What is at stake? Vučić is expected to win over 50 percent of the vote and avoid a runoff. However, there's a slight possibility his party could lose in Belgrade's municipal election. The political landscape could also get a little shakeup if Zdravko Ponoš makes it to the second round.
Who is in power: The nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has consolidated control over the past 12 years through gerrymandering and capturing the media.
Who is in the opposition: Six different political parties from various ideological backgrounds have teamed up to form United for Hungary. Márki-Zay, a Christian father of seven, is heading up the coalition.
What is at stake? Hungary is currently the most corrupt country in the European Union, and it plays a spoiler role in the EU's institutions. It also serves as a backdoor for Russian and Chinese influence in Europe.
Márki-Zay has said he would join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and restore the rule of law in Hungary if he wins. That would be a big deal.
Polling has shown Orbán's Fidesz Party neck and neck with United for Hungary, making this the first serious challenge to his rule in over a decade.
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