Election race crucial to Serbia's role in Europe

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Election race crucial to Serbia's role in Europe

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Sunday’s tight election race between Serbian nationalist radicals and pro-western democrats is seen as the most crucial vote in the country since Slobodan Milosevich was ousted in 2000.

Voters must decide whether to move towards a future within Europe or sacrifice EU membership on the altar of Kosovo.

The pro-EU Democratic Party is led by President Boris Tadic, who is running virtually neck-and-neck with the anti-EU ultra-nationalists.

If he wins, negotiations on Serbia’s entry into the EU can advance.

The main threat to Tadic comes from Tomislav Nikolic’s Serbian Radical Party, which is against Serbia joining an EU that supports an independent Kosovo.

Analysts say the Radical Party has a pragmatic approach to the need for foreign capital, so wouldn’t necessarily scare off investors.

Way behind in the race is the Democratic Party of Serbia, led by Vojislav Kostunica, who resigned as prime minister in March over the president’s pro-EU leanings.

Given Serbia’s anger at Kosovo’s independence declaration, nationalist sentiment could well prevail on Sunday.