26 January 2007

The Quest For A Mandate

Radicals Want to Pick New Serbian PM
January 25, 2007 7:58 PM
BELGRADE, Serbia-A Serbian party once allied with former President Slobodan Milosevic is seeking to form a new government after having garnered the most votes in recent parliamentary elections, officials said Thursday.
Aleksandar Vucic, a leader of the ultranationalist Radical Party, urged Serbian President Boris Tadic to officially entrust the group with chosing the next prime minister, who would then organize the government.
"The Radical Party should head a new government," Vucic said, although his group failed to win an outright majority in the Jan. 21 elections.
The Radicals remain loyal to the ideas of Milosevic, a staunch nationalist who died last year while being tried on war crimes charges by a U.N. tribunal. The Radicals oppose independence for the province of Kosovo, the focus of a 1998-99 war between Milosevic's troops and separatist ethnic Albanians.
The new government will likely include less hard-line parties, which finished second, third and fourth in the race for the 250-seat parliament.
The State Election Commission released official results Thursday evening: the Radicals won 81 seats, the Tadic's pro-Western Democrats clinched 64, the conservative Popular Coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica won 47, and the liberal G17 Plus won 19, while the remainder went to smaller groups.
Kostunica, a moderate nationalist, has not ruled out any post-election pact. If he aligns himself with the Radicals, all reform-minded and pro-European parties would end up powerless with Serbia possibly falling back into international isolation.
An immediate challenge awaiting a new government is the U.N. plan on the future status of the southern province of Kosovo, the breakaway region populated mainly by separatist ethnic Albanians.
The province has been a U.N. and NATO protectorate since the 1998-99 war there between Serb troop and Kosovo Albanian rebels.
U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari has drafted a plan that could open the way for Kosovo's independence, albeit under international supervision, while Belgrade has offered only broad autonomy for the province and rejects a redrawing of borders