Incumbent Serbian President Vucic is preparing to win a second term

  • Vucic wins presidential election with 59.8%
  • Vucic says Serbia maintains its military neutrality
  • Serbia to maintain bid to join the European Union, friendly relations with Russia

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Incumbent Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is set to win Sunday’s presidential election with 59.8% of the vote, according to polling organizers Ipsos and CeSID, based on a sample of partial counts at polling stations.

Zdravko Bonos, a retired military general representing the pro-European-central Victory Alliance, is set to come in second with 17.1% of the vote.

Ipsos and CeSID forecasts showed that Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) is set to come first with 43.6% of the vote in the parliamentary vote.

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The opposition coalition, United for Victory, came in second place after receiving 12.9% of the vote.

The Serbian Socialist Party, a longtime ally of the SNS, took third place with 11.6% of the vote. The right-wing Nada (Hope) and Muramu (Must), a coalition of green movements and parties, received about 5.4% and 4.3% of the vote, respectively.

Since SNS will likely fail to secure enough of the 250-seat parliament to govern on its own, it will have to seek out coalition partners.

According to preliminary data from the state election commission, the turnout was 58.54%.

Vucic ran for a second five-year term on the promise of peace and stability just as Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, which put Serbia under pressure from the West to choose between its traditional relations with Moscow and its aspirations to join the European Union (EU).

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Vucic acknowledged that the conflict in Ukraine had affected the campaign and said Serbia had no plans to break out of the balancing game between EU membership application and close ties with Russia and China, the main investor.

“We will maintain an important policy for the Europeans, the Russians and the Americans, which is … military neutrality,” he added.

“Serbia will try to maintain friendly partnership relations in many areas with the Russian Federation,” Vucic said.

Serbia is almost completely dependent on Russian gas, while its army maintains relations with the Russian army.

The Kremlin also supports Belgrade’s opposition to Kosovo’s independence by banning its membership in the United Nations.

Although Serbia supported two United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it refused to impose sanctions on Moscow.

Polls organizers CeSID and CRTA reported numerous irregularities, including photographing ballot papers.

The opposition largely boycotted the 2020 parliamentary elections, allowing Vucic’s party and its allies to secure 188 seats in the 250-seat parliament.

The veteran politician who served as information minister in 1998 under former strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Vucic transformed himself from a figure of national concern into a supporter of EU accession, military neutrality, and relations with Russia and China.

Bonos Vucic was accused of exploiting the war in Ukraine in his campaign to take advantage of people’s fears.

Opposition and rights monitors also accuse Vucic and his allies of authoritarian rule, corruption, nepotism, control of the media, attacks on political opponents, and links with organized crime. Vucic and his allies have repeatedly denied all these allegations.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Ivana Sekularak) Editing by Emilia Sithole Mataris, Diane Kraft and Chizu Nomiyama

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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