Unexpected winner in Serbian presidential election
Commentary by Danilo Milic, Program Coordinator Belgrad
The voter turnout was very low at only about 46 percent. Analysts interpret this as a clear message that voters are not satisfied with the any of the alternatives and they see this as one of the reasons for Tomislav Nikolic’s victory.
Tadic, who is the president of the Democratic Party, was identified as the leader of the governing coalition during four years of financial crisis and was “punished” for the decline of the Serbian economy. Several intellectuals during the campaign came out with statements that Tadic had abused his position and stepped away from core democratic values. Some recommended voters not to vote for him even though his opponent was formerly known as a hard line nationalist and the leader of a far right Radical Party.
However, these are not only reasons of Tadic’s defeat. The Democratic Party and their leader did not manage to fulfil most of the promises given at the beginning of their mandate in 2008 although several of those were not in direct connection with the economy. A boring, unclear and often negative election campaign by the Democratic Party is also seen as one of the reasons for the election result.
Tomislav Nikolic clearly stated that his victory will not change the direction of Serbia and that EU accession will remain a priority. Nikolic, who left the Radical Party and their rhetoric and formed a new party three and a half years ago, is now in position to prove his political change in practice and the first test will be related with the new government of Serbia.
His party got highest number of MPs on the elections held on May 6th but it is likely that they will not be in position to form a government. It is most likely that the Democratic Party will form a parliamentary majority with the Socialist party and few smaller parties. The future relations between the government and the president will determine the pace of reforms and economic recovery in the country. It is not easy to predict if they will follow their (very similar) programmes and work together or if they will use the authorities they have in order to block the work of the other side whenever possible.