22 January 2007

Ultranationalists Claim Victory


Belgrade, 22 Jan. (AKI) - Based on partial results, the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS) has retained its place as the strongest single party taking 28.32 percent of ballots cast in Sunday's general election. President Boris Tadics's centre-left Democratic Party (DS) ran second with 22.67 percent, followed by prime minister Vojislav Kostunica's centre-right Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) with 16.37 percent. A record 60.65 percent of registered electors voted in Sunday's poll, demanding revitalised democratic government that could set the country on a clear path to future membership of the European Union . The G-17 Plus of former finance minister Mladjan Dinkic was fourth with 16.38 and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) of former president Slobodan Milosevic was fifth with 5.64 percent. The biggest surprise was the success of the Liberal democratic party (LDP) of former vice-premier Cedomir Jovanovic, which passed the required five percent threshold winning 5.33 per cent of votes. A total six parties have entered the 250-seat parliament.Jovanovic was the only party leader openly advocating independence for Serbia’s breakaway Muslim-majority Kosovo province - a position considered a blasphemous by other leaders. Nonetheless, he garnered 211,000 votes out of a turnout of over four million. The biggest loser was the Serbian Renewal Movement of foreign minister Vuk Draskovic, which failed to enter parliament with only 3.38 per cent of votes. Altogether, the four pro-European parties – DS, DSS, G-17 Plus and LDP - returned over 155 MPs to parliament and were in a position to form a coalition government. But analysts said it would take tortuous negotiations before the parties could come to terms on the distribution of power. The radicals have been the strongest single party for the past seven years, but they are unable to find a coalition partner in the pro-European bloc. The new parliament has to be constituted by the end of February. If a new coalition government is not formed in three months, new elections should be held. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Monday urged the rapid formation of a new Serbian government. "The majority voted for forces that are democratic and pro-European," Solana was quoted as saying as he arrived for a meeting of Eu foreign ministers to discuss the 27-member bloc's policy towards Belgrade in light of Sunday's vote."I hope very much there will be a speedy formation of a government that will be on the line of pro-European forces," he told reporters. He denid the election results had demonstrated the fialure of Western efforts to to quell nationalist feeling in Serbia.