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Serbia’s ruling party wins snap poll

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The centre-right SNS won 49 per cent of the votes, translating to 157 of the 250 seats in parliament based on the proportional electoral system used in Serbia

Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party (SNS) and its leader Aleksandar Vucic exceeded expectations and won an absolute majority in snap elections Sunday, annihilating the opposition.

The centre-right SNS won 49 per cent of the votes, according to preliminary projections by the commercial election monitoring agency CESID. That translates to 157 of the 250 seats in parliament based on the proportional electoral system used in Serbia. It’s more than double the 73 won by the party in elections two years ago.

“Thank you for the confidence, thank you for the great strength you gave us,” Vucic said, addressing reporters as he appeared to be choking back tears.

The SNS picked up seats beyond its 49 per cent tally because under Serbia’s proportional electoral system, the votes for parties that did not qualify for parliament are distributed among those that did based on the winning parties’ result.

Outgoing Prime Minister Ivica Dacic’s Socialists Party (SPS), the SNS’s governing partners over the previous two years, came in second, according to CESID’s projections, with 14 per cent of the votes, or 45 seats.

The result is a slight improvement from 2012, when the SPS claimed 44 seats, but the huge SNS win brings into doubt expectations that the two sides may renew their alliance to create a broad consensus for reforms that Serbia needs to implement.

The biggest losers of the night were the Democratic Party (DS) and its splinter, the New Democratic Party (NDS), led by the former DS leader and Serbian president Boris Tadic.

DS and NDS won fewer than 6 per cent of the votes each, falling from 67 seats that the DS controlled after May 2012 elections to 19 and 18, respectively.

Ethnic minorities hold the remaining 11 seats, according to CESID’s final projections. No other party collected at least 5 per cent of the votes required for qualification to the parliament.

The central election commission (RIK) is due to release the final results later in the week, pending possible complaints.

Vucic decided in January to topple the previous government less than halfway through its term, days after the European Union opened membership talks with Serbia.

He said then that he wanted a new mandate to implement broad reforms required both to keep Serbia away from economic and financial collapse and those that the EU requires.

“Difficult reforms are ahead of us, but Serbia has a future in which our children will live better than they live today,” he said Sunday night “Serbia will continue on its European path and work with all its friends — US, Russia, China and everybody else,” he added.

He listed the fight against unemployment as a top priority of the upcoming government, promising a drop of the jobless rate halfway through its term. The other priority is to “continue fighting corruption.”

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Printable version | Aug 18, 2017 6:23:53 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/serbias-ruling-party-wins-snap-poll/article5795133.ece