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Pro-EU Tadic looks for allies after poll victory

Latest update : 2008-05-13

Serbian President Boris Tadic’s pro-European party secured a win in Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Yet, as nationalist rivals also claimed they could form a government, the country is bracing for tense negotiations. (Report:C. Moore)

The left-leaning Serb daily Danas hailed a “historic win for European Serbia” on Monday, after the pro-European party led by President Boris Tadic came out on top in Sunday’s parliamentary poll. Yet, falling far short of a majority, Tadic’s Democratic Party (DS) now faces a tough round on the negotiating table to form a coalition government.

While celebrating a “great day for Serbia,” the country’s president appeared well-aware of the challenges ahead. “You go on and celebrate, while I negotiate,” he told his supporters.

A fragile majority in Parliament

At first sight, victory for the pro-European camp is undeniable. With 38.8% of the vote and 103 seats in parliament, the Democratic Party is well ahead of the Radical Party (SRS) led by ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic, who secured 29.2% of votes and 77 seats.

Yet, Nikolic could likely count on the support of former Prime-Minister Vojislav Kostunica, whose nationalist positions were strengthened by Kosovo’s independence. His Serb Democratic Party (DSS) claimed 30 seats with an 11% share of the vote – which leaves Tadic grappling with a wafer-thin majority.

A subtle game of alliances is expected to unfold in the coming days. Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who is also in charge of running the Democratic Party, has already indicated that the pro-European bloc “would hold talks with everyone”. As he put it, “all those who wish to follow us (…) toward a European future for Serbia are most welcome”.

Tadic may rely on the party of the late Milosevic

The President’s bloc can count on support from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the only one so far to have recognised Kosovo’s independence. Its leader Cedomir Jovanovic was close to the slain prime-minister Zoran Djindjic, architect of the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. The LDP picked up approximately 5% of votes. Yet, ironically, the Socialist Party (SPS) of the late Milosevic is best placed to partner with the pro-European camp.

“While its voters are closer to the nationalists, the Socialist Party has more to gain from an alliance with the pro-Europeans,” analyst Slobodan Antonic told the AFP. “Allied with the DS, the Socialist party could act as a force on the left, aiming at greater social justice,” explains Marko Blagojevic of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CESID).

The stakes are high for Serbia’s future. While rejection of Kosovo’s independence is common to virtually all parties, the country’s future in Europe remains an open question – all the more since the recent signing of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Belgrade and Brussels, paving the way for a future within the European Union.

Brussels was quick to hail a “clear victory” for Serbia’s pro-European forces following the Democratic Party’s electoral win, suggesting the result should enable the Balkan state “to move ahead on the road to the EU, including with a status of candidate”.

Date created : 2008-05-12

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