Pro-European President wins Serbian elections

Serbian voters backed their pro-European President, Boris Tadic, in a dramatic election race last night.

The Central Electoral Commission announced that Mr Tadic had obtained 50.5 per cent of the votes cast, while the ultranationalist and pro-Russian candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, was close behind with 47.9 per cent of votes.

"Serbia is a European democracy," Mr Tadic said after the results. "We have shown the democratic potential of Serbia."

According to Zoran Lucic, the head of the prominent election monitoring group CeSID, the difference between the two was "a mere 100,000 votes". More than 4.5 million people showed up at polling stations yesterday, a turnout of 67.6 per cent and the highest turnout since the former President Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in 2000.

The commission later announced a 4 per cent lead for Mr Tadic.

The run-off presidential vote had a huge bearing on Serbia's future as Mr Tadic is now expected to steer the biggest state in the Balkans into the family of European nations. Mr Nikolic had led in the first round.

The ballot had been viewed as a final choice between European integration or the isolation of the past. Mr Tadic, 50, promised the road to the EU, despite all the obstacles the nation faces. Mr Nikolic stood for closer ties with Russia, often called the traditional ally of Serbia.

That would have meant the return of Serbia into the isolationist past of the 1990s, when Mr Nikolic's Radical Party ruled with the former president Milosevic.

Slovenia, which currently holds the European Union presidency, welcomed the re-election of Mr Tadic, the Democratic Party's leader. "The Serbian people seem to have confirmed their support to the democratic and European course of their country," the EU presidency said in a statement.

The tight result showed how Serbs remain deeply split over current political issues and on their recent past, analysts say. "Tadic won, my congratulations," Mr Nikolic said at his party headquarters. "I would like to call on everyone to stay calm," he added.

The President's tight victory came just as the UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo is to declare independence. Its two million ethnic Albanians are expected to break away in the coming weeks. Although both candidates had opposed Kosovo's secession, Mr Tadic is believed by the international community to be the politician able to cushion the inevitable shock felt by Serbs.

And he does not oppose co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sitting in The Hague, where the Radicals' founder, Vojislav Seselj, is on trial for war crimes committed during the civil war.

However, to secure itsEuropean future, Serbia still has to hand over war criminals from the 1990s –the former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic. The two are accused of ordering the executions of 7,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 – the biggest massacre in Europe since the Second World War.

Karadzic is believed to be hiding in the mountains of eastern Bosnia or northern Montenegro, while Mladic is believed to be in Serbia.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor