The second round in Serbia’s presidential election is to be a re-run of last time around. The ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic, and liberal Boris Tadic, finished five points apart this weekend, with around 40 and 35 per cent of the vote respectively. Nikolic is pro-Russian and lukewarm on European ties, although he doesn’t rule out an arrangement.
Reform-minded Tadic would be the EU’s choice, but probably not the Serbian prime minister’s. Vojislav Kostunica did not support either candidate in the first round, but his choice in the second will be key, and he’s deemed to be closer to Nikolic.
The winner of the run-off will have to deal with Kosovo while maintaining a relationship with the European Union.
The EU diplomatic chief, Javier Solana is optimistic: “First, the election had a very high turnout, which proves that there is a tremendous interest among the people of Serbia to produce a democratic outcome. The second thing we hope is that there will be a sentiment of getting closer to the European Union. We are ready. We have very good relations with Serbia and we would like very much to see Serbia close to the European Union.”
But Solana knows those good relations will come under severe threat if, or rather when, Kosovo declares independence from Serbia. Most EU members have said they would approve the move.