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news 20 May 12

Tomislav Nikolic Wins Serbian Presidency

In a surprising twist, Serbia's nationalist Tomislav Nikolic has won the presidential runoff against the leader of the Democrats' Boris Tadic.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Despite all predictions of a smooth victory for Tadic, Nikolic won the presidential elections leading by two points, according to the first preliminary results of the Center for Free Elections and Democracy, CeSID, on a sample of 70 per cent.

Nikolic has thanked all the Serbian people for the victory.

"This is God's will. Serbia will keep the EU path but also protect Kosovo.”

"Serbia is a modern country, I will cooperate with everyone and no one should be angry because I won," Nikolic said.

He will no longer be the president of his party, following up on his promise made before the elections.

His victory is poised to disturb the comfortable rule of the Democrat led coalition, who counted on retaining the presidency.

Outgoing president Tadic, leader of the Democrats, has congratulated Nikolic on the election victory and said: "There was no electoral fraud in these elections. It is a pity that many voters decided not to come out."

He also said that he would not be the prime minister. The Democrats have previously agreed with the Socialists to form the new government following the May 6 general elections.

A former funeral parlour boss and construction technician from Kragujavac, Tomislav Nikolic ran for president three times during eight years of Tadic’s presidency.

Nikolic, now 60, entered politics as the right-hand man of the hard line nationalist Vojislav Seselj with whom he founded the Serbian Radical Party in 1991.

In the 1990s, Nikolic was Seselj's front man in the Serbian parliament but he fully took over the reins after 2003 when Seselj departed to The Hague to answer war crimes charges.

Nikolic, whose former job granted him the nickname “the Undertaker,” will be remembered for having first pledged grand new borders for a Greater Serbia - only to jettison the idea after he founded his new party last autumn.

In the past, he said he felt no sorrow for at least some of the victims of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, when his own Radicals were on the ascendant.

But today his Progressives fight a different battle, mainly presenting themselves as modern patriotic warriors for social justice. They have also changed their tune about the EU and are now vocally supporting Serbia’s EU integration and seeking meetings with EU leaders in Brussels.

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Election Background

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Serbian Elections 2012: What's at stake

This spring almost 7 million Serbians are entitled to vote in presidential, general, provincial and local elections. 

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Two Decades of Election Tumult in Serbia

Since the renewal of multi-party politics in 1990 power has oscillated between a variety of parties in Serbia and votes have often followed by allegations of frauds and protests. 

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Key Parties in Serbia

Twelve years after the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, the scene has changed significantly as parties rise, fall and change their minds. See Balkan Insight's profiles of Serbia's ruling and opposition parties.

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Serbian Presidential Elections Since 1990

Since the first multi-party elections were held in 1990, Serbia has often had acting heads of state, while many of those elected ended their terms before their mandates expired.

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