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News 16 Nov 16

Vucic Rivals Tito as Serbia's Best Leader, Poll Shows

According to a public opinion survey, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is the second best leader that Serbia ever had, just after former Yugoslav strongman Josip Broz Tito.

Milivoje Pantovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic at the Assembly session. Photo: Beta

Research by the Belgrade-based Research Publishing Center Demostat shows that Serbs see Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic as second-best leader Serbia ever had, just after former Yugoslavia's president for life, Josip Broz Tito, the daily newspaper Danas reported on Wednesday.

“When citizens get to choose who was the best leader between six names, they said Josip Broz Tito. Just behind him, with 1 per cent less votes, is the current Prime Minister, Vucic,” Danas reported.

According to the research, Tito retained his narrow advantage in all groups among citizens, except in the "medium educated" category.

The next name on the list was Serbia's late Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, assassinated in 2003, with 11 per cent of the votes.

Serbia's late strongman Slobodan Milosevic trailed far behind with only 3 per cent of the votes, just ahead of former prime minister Boris Tadic and Vojislav Kostunica.

The research was conducted among 1,500 people during October on their favourite leader, how they live, what they most fear, and what hopes of change they have.

Aware of the continuing popularity of Tito, Vucic has increasingly compared his own achievements with those of Tito who governed Yugoslavia with an iron hand from the end of the Second World War till his death in 1980.

Some say he is consciously tapping into a historic yearning among Serbs for an authoritarian chieftain.

Sociologist and university professor Ratko Bozovic told BIRN recently that references to Tito are intended to draw on widespread memories of “better times” among the public.

Tito took over Yugoslavia after leading the Partisan struggle against German occupation during the Second World War.

After starting out as a hardline communist, his rule became milder over the years, especially after the historic break with Moscow in 1948.

Many recall his time in office with nostalgia, remembering full employment and Yugoslavia's powerful image in the world.

Pioneering the non-aligned movement, which strove to find a diplomatic middle way between Washington and Moscow, he was admired also by many in the West, seen as a benign dictator who had successfully maintained peaceful coexistence between the often warring peoples of Yugoslavia.

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