The reason why they were not noticed may be found in the fact that after years of bloody wars and political instability, these elections passed in an atmosphere of relative calm. In a sea of European political turmoil, when Greek voters rejected austerity and the French booted their incumbant president and elected a socialist leader, Serbia seems like an island of tranquility. However, these elections still could have interrupted the Serbian path towards full EU membership and created a deep political turmoil in the country, as wounds from Kosovo have not healed yet. Fortunately, that did not happen.
Serbia is a country in the Balkanswith a population of nearly 8 million people. Serbia was part of Yugoslavia, which collapsed in 1991 in a bloody civil war. It then stayed in a union with Montenegro until 2006, when, after the referendum which Montenegro left the partnership, it became independent state. Now after the fall of Slobodan Miloševi? in 2000, Serbia is pursuing the EU membership.
There were in fact three separate elections in Serbia: local, parliamentary and presidential. In the presidential vote Boris Tadi?, leader of the Democratic Party (DS) and Serbia's president since 2004, took first place, winning the backing of 26.7% of voters. His main rival, Tomislav Nikoli?, leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), came second with 25.5%. Ivica Da?i?, head of the Socialist Party (SPS), was third with 16.6%. Tadi? and Nikoli?now go through to the second round run-off, on May 20th.
In the parliamentary elections, SPS performed better than expected, which was a major surprise. The socialists won 44 seats out of 250, while democrats won 68 and progressives 73. With these results it is very probable that the future government will look similar to the previous one, with democrats and socialist forming a coalition.
However, there are some interesting moments of this campaign. Two far-right parties have been left out from the Parliament. Liberal Democrats, who support faster EU integration gained near 7% of the votes, which was a disappointment for a party that expected more than 10%. An interesting fact from the Serbian elections is that almost 5% of the votes were blank ballots, almost enough to “pass the census” if it were a real political party. By voting for Batman or Tito, 5% of Serbian voters showed their discontent for the negative political campaigns that were being run.
In the next couple of weeks, after the secondround of presidential election, Serbia will see blooming political negotiations between party leaders, but it is unlikely to the country take a turn away from its path of reform and EU accession. The good thing is that there is a broad agreement on Serbia’s direction towards the EU. The political leaders now have to succeed economically and deal with a high rate of unemployment and other economic problems, as Serbian voters do not want Serbia to end up like that other troubled country in the Balkans: Greece.