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Home / Resources / News / Serbian voters chose rightist Nikolic

Serbian voters chose rightist Nikolic

9Vladan MiljkovicSerbian voters decided to change their president. Mr. Tomislav Nikolic succeeded in becoming the new president after defeats in two previous elections against Boris Tadic. The perennial loser finally became a winner.  It was quite a shocking defeat for modern Serbian society. For many people, this simply means a suppression of the democratic process in Serbia. Nikolic, as the former head of the Progressive Party, has a controversial political biography. He was vice president of the Serbian Radical Party. He is godfather to the leader of the Radicals who is now standing trial for war crimes at the Hague.  During his days in the Radical Party of Serbia, Nikolic had one of the most aggressive approaches against the European Union and was clearly against the European option.  Mr. Nikolic has also had an active role during the nineties when he was elected as vice president of the Serbian government, during the time of Milosevic’s regime.In 2008, after two electoral defeats, Nikolic decided to change his political ideology. After forming the Serbian Progressive Party he decided to split from the extreme Radical Party. He stated that he had changed political views and he started to promote European values. After almost one year as part of the opposition he tried to convince Serbian authorities that the country was in need of early elections. When his proposal was rejected, he announced that he would go on a hunger strike. This incident marks only of the many events that highlight Nikolic’s colorful biography.

Do people in Serbia believe that Nikolic is a new pro-European leader or did they wanted to punish former president Tadic?

This election had the lowest turnout of voters since 2004 (Nikolic won 50.21% of total votes to Tadic’s 46.77%). Tadic won almost 817.467 less votes than during the last elections while Nikolic won almost 675.555 less votes. The former president Tadic, while acting as President of Serbia, was also the president of the Democratic Party, which had a majority in the Serbian Parliament, and in the Serbian Government. The middle class in Serbia felt betrayed, the had expected more. The big numbers are critical. With high levels of unemployment, corruption, failed transition, people grew tired. Serbia is among the four poorest countries in Europe. The standard of life is certainly on the edge for many people. Tadic’s closest associates should feel that they could have contributed more, and could have changed many negative aspects of Serbian society. It is clear that Nikolic has secured victory because people  refused to use their vote to support Tadic once more. This is what caused his defeat.

Serbia is in the final phase of forming a new government, and Nikolic has stated that he is ready to cooperate with Tadic. This cooperation is crucial for Serbia’s future, for if there is an inability to cooperate between these two opposing sides, Serbia will have a hard time moving forward on its path towards the EU. Many sticky issues await the new government; massive public administration, the pension and tax reforms, and of course, Kosovo.

Tadic has done a lot to promote the Serbian reputation in the world, and has built his name as one of the fighters for the European idea. Mr Nikolic, however, does not have the same positioning. While he declares himself as pro-EU, he needs to work hard to create a better image of himself, and to show that he is honest in his intentions and his rhetoric, and that he will maintain his focus on cooperation in the region. He declared that he wants to foster good relations with the EU and with Russia and, for now, he has support from both sides.

These elections have shown us that there is a place for a new political option in Serbia, which, if formed, could play an important role in the Serbian pro-European perspective.

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