Serbia's pro-Western President declares win
UPDATE: 6:25p.m. EDT May 11th Serbia's pro-Western President declares electoral victory
Serbia's pro-Western president declared victory
in Sunday's parliamentary elections - a stunning upset over
ultranationalists who tried to exploit anger over Kosovo's
independence. But his rivals vowed to fight on, and it was unclear if
he could stave off their challenge.
a great day for Serbia," Boris Tadic proclaimed after an independent
monitoring group that carried out a parallel vote count nationwide said
his bloc won 39 percent - about 10 percent more than the
ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party.
Tadic, however, acknowledged his nationalist
rivals could still team up against his Coalition for a European Serbia
and try to form Serbia's next government. Any alliance that can muster
a simple 126-seat majority in the 250-seat parliament can govern, and
nationalists indicated they would mount a challenge.
Tadic's coalition appeared assured of 103 seats, the Radicals were
poised to get 76 seats. If they joined forces with Prime Minister
Vojislav Kostunica's conservative coalition, with 30 seats, and the
Socialist Party of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, with
21, the combined strength would be 127 seats.
leader Tomislav Nikolic urged his allies to pull together, and said he
would meet Monday with Kostunica and the Socialists to form a
government, "because ideologically we are very close.
Previously, Serbs are voting today in a snap election, and are turning out in great numbers. Last year's election was inconclusive, and the nation is at a crossroads in its relationship with the rest of Europe.
The ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party clung to a slim lead heading into the parliamentary vote, closely trailed by President Boris Tadic's pro-Western coalition. Officials said early turnout was strong.
Potential kingmakers included Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's conservative bloc and Milosevic's Socialists. One or both were expected to help form a new government with an anti-Western and pro-Russia stance.
"People here can't shake the feeling that Europe isn't fair and just toward Serbia," Braca Grubacic, a prominent political analyst, said Saturday. "Serbia is not like it used to be, but the problems and the political agenda are the same as they were during the Milosevic era."
Kosovo's declaration of independence has boosted the hardliners.
Disagreements over how to react when most EU countries recognised Kosovo led to the collapse of a fragile coalition between Mr Tadic's Democratic Party and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's nationalist Democratic Party of Serbia.
Serbs in Kosovo are being allowed to vote in the election though the Kosovo Albanian government and UN authority say they believe the ballot there is illegal.