Sofia Echo

South Eastern Europe

Serbia: Tadić leads as presidential elections head for second round

Author: Clive Leviev-Sawyer Date: Sun, May 06 2012 17875 Views
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Boris Tadić, president of Serbia from 2004 until he resigned ahead of the May 6 2012 elections, was said to have gained the largest share of votes but would face off against second-placed Tomislav Nikolić in a run-off presidential election on May 20, going by exit polls.
Media in Belgrade reported Tadić as having got somewhere between 26 and 27 per cent of the vote, with the vote for Nikolić, of the Serbia Progressive Party, estimated at 25.6 to 25.9 per cent.
Socialist Party of Serbia leader Ivica Dačić was said to have got just more than 14 per cent and Democratic Party of Serbia leader Vojislav Koštunica just more than seven per cent.
Voter turnout was close to 59 per cent, out of about 6.7 million eligible voters, in an election reported to have passed without serious incidents in Serbia, barring some opposition allegations of irregularities and at least one arrest for vote-buying.
Election campaigns ahead of Serbia’s May 6 presidential and parliamentary vote were dominated by concerns about the country’s economy. Unemployment is said to be about 24 per cent in a country that lately has been turning in an extremely poor economic growth performance, and where average salaries are said to be the equivalent of 350 euro monthly.
These concerns had been seen as the reason that Tadić had been in a neck-and-neck race with Nikolić. However, voters appeared to have given Tadić and the coalition formed around his Democratic Party the largest shares of votes in the presidential and parliamentary elections, respectively.
In Kosovo, where a deal involving the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) had enabled Serbian passport holders to vote in that country’s presidential and parliamentary elections – but not the Serbian municipal elections – early reports were that procedures had passed without serious problems.
All 90 voting stations in 28 districts in Kosovo opened, although there were some delays caused by technical problems.
According to an OSCE statement, voter turnout in the ballot facilitation in Kosovo was reported at about 17 per cent by 2pm on May 6 by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.
The Head of the OSCE Mission, ambassador Werner Almhofer, visited several polling stations and met the OSCE staff running the balloting facilitation centres, the statement said.
"Our reports indicate that so far the operation is running smoothly, and I have seen for myself in several polling stations that the OSCE local and international staff are performing their duties diligently, enabling voters to cast their ballots," he said.
About 109 000 voters in Kosovo were eligible to vote because of the deal involving the OSCE, an agreement which was welcomed by the European Union, of which Serbia is a candidate member.
Both Tadićand Nikolić, who were two in a field of 12 presidential candidates, have pledged to continue leading Serbia on the path to EU accession.