Dashing Western hopes that Serbia would turn its back on nationalism, the hardline Radical Party has come out on top in the country’s most critical election since the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. With its leader on trial in the Hague for war crimes, it was down to the Radicals’ candidate for prime minister to claim victory. Tomislav Nikolic does not, however, have enough votes for a majority in parliament.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democratic Party of Serbian President Boris Tadic doubled its vote to come in second. Hailing a success for pro-European parties, he believes they can form a coalition, keeping the Radicals from power.
“We have a strong majority. If we have a strong decision, if we are sharing values, our goals, we are going to achieve that,” he told reporters.
The man who could hold the key to it all is outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. With his party in third place, he said:
“Coalition talks are ahead of us.”
No major Serb party concedes the loss of Kosovo, run by the United Nations since 1999. Early next month, a UN envoy is set to present his decision on whether the Serbian province should become independent. With its bid for eventual EU membership frozen over Belgrade’s failure to arrest war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, Serbia will be discussed by the bloc’s foreign ministers today.