Serbia’s Vucic seeks mandate for EU talks in early election
BELGRADE – Serbian voters were set to grant pro-western Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic four more years in power on Sunday, but he will probably have to contend with a resurgent ultra-nationalist opposition demanding closer ties with Russia.
Aiming to push ahead with a bid for European Union membership, Vucic called the parliamentary ballot just two years after he became prime minister following a landslide election win for his conservative Progressive Party.
Vucic, a 46-year-old former hardline nationalist, has also promised a new drive to privatise loss-making state-run companies if he is re-elected, and pollsters expect him to win another absolute majority.
But Serbia’s political picture is likely to be complicated by the re-emergence of Vojislav Seselj’s anti-EU Radicals, which an austerity-weary electorate is tipped to return to parliament for the first time since 2012 as the third largest party.
Nationalist firebrand Seselj could become de facto leader of the opposition, less than a month after the U.N. tribunal in The Hague acquitted him of war crimes during the 1990s breakup of Yugoslavia.
There was a trickle of early voters in Belgrade.
Srdjan Zivkovic, a software engineer, who arrived at his polling station at the 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) opening time, declined to say how he would vote but said he expected Vucic’s party to lose some of its power. -Reuters