August 26, 2015 / 6:48 PM / 3 years ago

Serbia may hold early elections, decision by end-September: PM Vucic

VIENNA (Reuters) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday there was a 50/50 chance his government would call an early election, but he declined to give his reasons.

Bodyguards use umbrella to protect Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic during unrest at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Potocari, near Srebenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina July 11, 2015. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A decision on when to call the vote would be made by the end of September, said Vucic, who took office in April 2014 after a resounding election win by his conservative Serbian Progressive Party.

Under the usual schedule, the next election would take place in 2018.

A vote could be held within three to four months after the decision, he added, speaking in Vienna a day before the start of a Western Balkan summit.

“We have to take care of these economic reforms that we have already launched, and that was the reason why we haven’t called an election so far,” Vucic said.

An ultra-nationalist during the wars of Yugoslavia’s collapse, 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 and in a in a 1.2 billion euro deal with the International Monetary Fund, he promised to reform a bloated public sector, sell or close down hundreds of loss-making companies to cut the deficit.

The opposition has criticized him for cutting pensions and public sector salaries last year to win the IMF deal.

Reporting by Ivana Sekularac and Karin Strohecker; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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