Serbian president declares victory — Analysis

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has declared himself the winner of Sunday’s presidential election, as polls close and an early projection places him far enough ahead to avoid a runoff election. Vucic has 59% of votes according to an analysis done by the Center for Free Elections and Democracy, which is a large margin of victory.

From his party headquarters the incumbent leader exclaimed “Serbia will remain on the European and reformist path, but also friends with Russia and China.”The country is in the process to join the EU but, unlike other NATO-member countries, has not decided to end all its relations with Moscow during the conflict in Ukraine.

While Vucic’s Progressive party appears to have fallen short of the 50% in parliament it would need for a clear majority, instead projected to win some 43% of seats, it is likely to form an alliance with the Socialists, with whom it has worked in the past. The United for Victory of Serbia opposition coalition looks likely to be in the lead with only 13% of votes. 

About 50.82% registered voters showed up to vote by 8 p.m. local time. The State Election Commission did not report any serious irregularities in voting. Official results will be announced on Monday.

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As in neighboring Hungary, which also held parliamentary elections on Sunday, Serbia’s opposition attempted to paint the incumbent as a Russian puppet, even as most Serbians support neutrality for their country – especially given deep-seated resentments of NATO arising from the alliance’s 1999 bombing campaign.

Vucic joined the majority of European countries to condemn the Russian attack against Ukraine at the United Nations. However, he didn’t follow them into the full-blown sanctions pile-on. He noted that Belgrade relies on Moscow for most its energy resources, and that imposing draconian sanctions could prove disastrous.

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