Although many expected the parliamentary and presidential elections in Serbia to be a showdown between the ruling Democratic Party and the opposition Serbian Progressive Party, the biggest benefit was gained by the Socialist Party of Serbia.
By Igor Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 07/05/12
Sunday's elections in Serbia saw a 61% turnout. [Reuters]
The Socialist Party of Serbia, which was toppled from power in mass demonstrations just 12 years ago when it was led by Slobodan Milosevic, gained key leverage in Sunday's (May 6th) presidential and parliamentary elections.
The Socialists, headed by Interior Minister Ivica Dacic, won about 16% of the votes, making it impossible to form the new government without them.
"Perhaps it is still unknown in Serbia who will be the president, but it is known for sure who will be the prime minister," Dacic said.
He added that the Socialists will prevent Serbia splitting into two parties -- the Democrats and the Progressives. "The election result showed Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic are not the only ones, that there is a third Serbia, which speaks on behalf of the people. We speak on behalf of the people," said Dacic, whose coalition collected 500,000 votes of the about 4 million ballots cast. About 61% of eligible voters cast ballots.
According to initial results from the Serbian Electoral Commission, the Serbian Progressive Party won the most votes with 24.1%, while the Democratic Party got 21.29%.
The parties' leaders -- Tomislav Nikolic and Boris Tadic, respectively -- will take part in second round of the presidential vote on May 20th.
Tadic said that the formation of the new government will hinge on this race.
"The first round of the presidential election clearly demonstrated that it will depend on the second round [to decide what] Serbia will look like over the next five years and what the new government will look like. I believe in victory and will launch a campaign immediately," Tadic said.
Nikolic is equally confident. "The second election round is a chance for the citizens of Serbia. If they show the same determination they did in the first round, we will get a new government with new ideas and a new president."
Analysts, however, said the Democrats stand a better chance during round two.
Jovo Bakic, a professor at the Belgrade Faculty of Philosophy, told SETimes that the Democrats have greater coalition capacity than the Progressives.
"The Progressive Party's chance was a landslide victory in the general election, with at least 5% advantage over the Democratic Party. Since that hasn't happened, and since Tadic is the favourite in the second round of the presidential election, the Democrats will probably form government with their hitherto coalition partners," Bakic predicted.
Slavisa Orlovic, Faculty of Political Sciences professor, told SETimes that the Socialists were the biggest winners of the elections and that it was obvious that voters had backed Dacic's sharp national rhetoric.
"But, the second round of the presidential election will have a significant influence on the forming of the new government -- we should wait for them," he said.
Predrag Simic, former Serbian ambassador to France, told SETimes that Serbia's foreign policy would not change after the elections, because both the Democrats and the Progressives state European integration as their top priority.
"But the matter of Kosovo will again stand in Serbia's way. The negotiations need to continue and functional relations should be established with Pristina, but everyone will first wait for the new government to form," Simic said.