Centrist wins run-off Election for Serbian Presidency

The BBC reports that centrist candidate Boris Tadić has won more than 50% of the vote in the second round of the Serbian presidential elections held on Sunday. Turnout was high and the Serbian electorate has, with a slight majority, signaled its intention of looking towards the future and the West, rather than returning to the nationalist rhetoric and policies of Serbia’s recent past.

Serbian President Boris Tadic, 3 February 2008

Mr Tadic wants to push forward his European integration agenda

Serbia’s pro-Western president, Boris Tadic, has won a second round election run-off against nationalist challenger Tomislav Nikolic, who conceded defeat. Mr Tadic was re-elected by more than 50% of voters in a contest that saw a high voter turnout.

Car horns could be heard around Belgrade as Tadic supporters took to the streets of the Serbian capital to celebrate the victory.

The election was seen as a referendum on Serbia’s relations with Europe.

“Serbia has shown its great democratic potential,” said Mr Tadic said in his victory speech, in which he lauded Mr Nikolic for his performance in the knife-edge contest, and said the country still had hard work ahead.

Nationalist wins First Round of Serbian Presidential Elections

According to results released by the Election Commission of the Republic of Serbia, a second round of voting will be needed to elect Serbia’s next president. Current president, the moderate Boris Tadić, finished second (with 34.5% of votes cast) to challenger, Tomislav Nikolić, (40.0%) whose campaign was based on stark appeals to nationalist sentiments in the Serbian body politic. Given that neither candidate received the required 50% to be formally declared the first-round winner, Tadić and Nikolić will compete head-to-head in a run-off election on February 3rd. (Many European countries’ election laws also require winning candidates to have won 50% of the vote to avoid second-round run-off elections.)

The election outcome is seen as a battle between those who would aspire to a new era of Serbian politics, stressing future political and economic integration with the rest of Europe, and their opponents, who it is argued desire a return to the Milošević-era inspired nationalist ethos. The election could prove to be (yet another) important watershed in contemporary Serbian political affairs, evidence of which is the turnout, which was the largest in almost ten years. Here is a nice, short article from Time magazine explaining the future implications of the elections and below is a video report from Russia Today can be found here.

Below is a report prepared for the Sunday Telegraph in advance of the elections: