Fireworks and cheering marked the apparent triumph of Serbia’s Westward-leaning president, but all sides know they face much hard bargaining before Belgrade unveils a new government. The celebrations were as much in relief as in victory; President Boris Tadic has staked all on these elections and may still lose. A simple majority in the 250-seat parliament will be enough to form a government. Tadic’s bloc finished ahead but needs a partner, and a deal between the nationalists, radicals and socialists could beat him to the finish line.
The European Union welcomed the result, calling for a government with a clear European agenda. But the problem remains Kosovo. Tadic was branded a traitor by some Serbs for his wooing of the EU, many of whose states recognised Kosovo’s independence.
“This is a great victory, but it is not the end,” said President Tadic. “We must form a government immediately. I want to send out this message: Serbia wants to be in the European Union, but we will always peacefully defend the territorial integrity of our country.”