On Sunday Serbian voters come out to cast their votes on local, Parliamentary and Presidential elections which are labeled as a referendum on countries future in euro-atlantic integrations (EU and NATO membership) but also better or worse regional relations. Citizens had a chance to keep the country on current course towards EU/NATO while protecting national unity and territorial integrity with Kosovo or to steer to the right and bring itself on the brink of not joining to EU/NATO and possibly face itself with radical actions on Kosovo’s future. Everybody was looking into three political parties and three leaders on national level knowing that their results will decide country’s future. Former President Boris Tadic, his main coalition partner (Socialists leader, fmr Slobodan Milosevic deputy) and vice-PM Ivica Dacic, and official opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic were presidential candidates but also leaders of the strongest parliamentary parties and their post-election talks will decide final composition of the country. When it comes to regional relations analysts and commentators, including several politicians, said Tadic/Dacic coalition and Tadic as President would be the best choice for the future of Balkans.
NO NEW PRESIDENT, TADIC VS. NIKOLIC
According to unofficial results available to this moment Boris Tadic (Democratic Party) and Tomislav Nikolic will face-off in runoff round on May 20th. So far Tadic won 25.5% of votes, Nikolic 24.9% while Dacic won 14.5%. For win on this election one of two candidates must to win 50%+ of votes, if Tadic wins this would be his third term, but second after Serbia adopted new Constitution in 2006. Nikolic never hold official office in Serbian government, so far was deputy and the leader of the opposition in Serbian parliament as a member of Serbian Radical Party under the leadership of dr. Vojislav Seselj (accused for war crime and currently imprisoned in Den Hague) and as the leader of his own Serbian Progressive Party.
Tadic, who’s born in Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, forged over the years special state policy which is directed to move Serbia towards European Union without recognizing Kosovo as the independent state. He also positioned very well Serbia at the international political scene working closely with main political players and attracting big names as Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden to visit Serbia and discuss country’s future. Positive element in Tadic’s years of being President of Serbia is also improvement of relations with main regional partners Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. Often he visits Bosnia and Croatia or have a talk with their leaders on issues of war crimes, open political issues and cooperation in areas of industry, education and euro-atlantic integrations. Even tonight in the election night he called for better relations expressing his wish to drop off legal action against Croatia on war crimes which is currently debated in front of International Crime Tribunal in Den Hague.
Tomislav Nikolic is well known as supporter of far far right political ideas and political stands. For last fifteen years he stand behind accused war criminal and the leader of Serbian Radical Party dr. Vojislav Seselj. Suddenly four years ago Nikolic exited SRP and formed his own political Party – Serbian Progressive Party which moved itself away from some of Seselj ideas and far right political views, today he flirts with European Union and possibility to support Serbia’s membership in it, but many commentators believe that’s just part of his PR campaign nothing serious. It’s unclear how his victory will reflect on regional relations but I’m pretty sure two major partners Croatia and Bosnia will not be at ease to deal with him, his political and ideological past will be big ballast on his back through whole term as Serbian president. Kosovo’s future and negotiations with official Pristina will be in danger because he was one of the main opponents to them in the past and was always asking for bolder action in Northern Kosovo area where Serbs are majority. When you talk to people in Serbia or on Balkans Nikolic is known as the political loser because he lost several presidential and parliamentary election due to inability to form majority or to win enough votes to become inhabitant of Presidential Palace in Belgrade. Just moments ago on press conference in his HQ in Belgrade Nikolic said that he was victim of media campaign against him in this election race, adding that he’ll be the winner on May 20th.
KINGMAKERS – DACIC AND KOSTUNICA
Socialists Party of Serbia, once in the past lead by fmr. president and war crime accuse Slobodan Milosevic, is currently major coalition partner of Democratic Party (Tadic’s party). On today’s election their leader Ivica Dacic (Minister of Interior) won approximately 15% and his endorsement could decide the winner on presidential election in two weeks, I’m pretty sure he’ll continue his cooperation with Tadic because that gives him a chance to get better position in the government and parliament unless Nilkolic is ready to sacrifice a lot to bring him to the team. In Parliamentary race SPS won, so far, 14-16% of votes what when we translate to seats count could be anywhere between 40-45 seats, and could boost either Democrats or Peoples numbers through coalition to approximate 110-120 seats. SPS will be the most wanted bachelorette over couple next few weeks.
On the other side leader of DSS (Democratic Party of Serbia) fmr. president/PM dr. Vojislav Kostunica will have 20-25 seats in his pocket and that could be element which could help to Nikolic to reach even bigger majority if Dacic chose to go with them. Without Dacic they’ll be that small tag on scale to push Peoples Party to slight majority just couple of seats over the Tadic/Dacic coalition.