Voters back constitutional changes in Serbia referendum
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbian voters have approved in a weekend referendum the constitutional changes that the government said were part of a reform process, near-complete official results released on Monday showed.
Nearly 60% of people who cast ballots on Sunday voted in favor of the amendments that focus on the election of judges and prosecutors in the Balkan country. Nearly 40% were against, the state election authorities said.
The turnout was just over 30% of Serbia’s 6.5 million eligible voters, election officials said.
Authorities have said that the changes will boost the independence of the judiciary which is needed for Serbia to advance in its proclaimed bid to join the European Union.
Critics have said the changes are insufficient and irrelevant because of a generally non-democratic atmosphere in Serbia whose populist government has faced accusations of curbing democratic freedoms.
Officials have dismissed the criticism and hailed the referendum results. Voters in Serbia’s three biggest cities have voted against the constitutional amendments, in a sign of opposition to the government ahead of planned elections in April.