Pro-EU camps set to win elections in Serbia

May 12th, 2008 - 4:56 am ICT by admin  

Belgrade, May 12 (DPA) Serbs voted for closer ties with Europe instead of isolation for the second time in three months in Sunday’s snap parliamentary poll, in a stunning turnaround that negated pre-election surveys. A pro-European coalition led by President Boris Tadic won the most votes, claiming 39 percent of the ballots cast, overtaking the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party as the largest group in parliament, the private election monitoring agency Cesid said.

Turnout was about 60 percent, Cesid said, lower than expected after Serb politicians drummed up the election for weeks as crucial for the nation’s course.

Basing its projection on a sample of some 400 key polling stations among 8,600, the traditionally reliable Cesid said another pro-European group, the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), won 5.2 percent of the votes, qualifying for parliament.

That provisionally translates to 103 seats for Tadic’s Democratic Party and 13 for the LDP, which, with the votes of ethnic minority representatives, brings the pro-European camp close to a majority in the assembly of 250 seats.

The anti-Western bloc of the opposition Radicals (SRS) and the outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), came to some 28 and 11.5 percent of the votes, or 76 and 30 seats, respectively.

The two sides, which pre-election surveys suggested would form the next government, were the big losers on the night. SRS and DSS have vowed to turn Belgrade away from EU membership talks in protest at Western support of Kosovo’s independence from Serbia.

The late Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party (SPS) did slightly better than forecast by winning 8 percent, or a projected 21 seats, and remains in picture as a possible coalition partner in either of the two big blocs.

The anti-Western bloc retained a theoretical, but very unlikely chance of assembling a majority with several coalition partners.

The outcome, and the turnaround, are a carbon copy of the presidential election in January and February, in which Tadic was underdog to the SRS chief Tomislav Nikolic, but after trailing in surveys and losing the first-round vote clearly won in the run-off Feb 3.

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