Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic was on track for re-election on Sunday, with his Serbian Progressive party (SNS) set to receive the largest portion of the votes in a performance that would allow the populist conservative leader to consolidate power in a second term.
Pollsters Ipsos and CESID predicted that Vucic would garner almost 60 per cent of the vote after a relatively high turnout, with the official result expected in the coming days. If confirmed, Vucic would avoid a run-off for a second consecutive election.
“A huge thank you to the citizens of Serbia,” he said. “I’m endlessly proud and endlessly happy . . . I believe in a significant and convincing victory and I believe everyone will get what they deserve.”
Vucic, a former ultranationalist who rose to prominence as propaganda minister under former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, has campaigned on a message of stability following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Serbia’s traditional ally.
He has come under strong international pressure over his resistance to joining sanctions against Russia, which made him one of the few European leaders to refrain from doing so.
Vucic is not expected to change course dramatically on that stance given a significant proportion of his voters sympathise with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s campaign against Kyiv and resent the west, which bombed Belgrade during the Yugoslav wars in 1999.
“Regarding Russia sanctions, a quick about-turn seems unlikely,” said Milos Damjanovic, an analyst at the BIRN consultancy in Belgrade. “Vucic will seek to play for time and avoid aligning with sanctions on Russia for as long as possible, hoping that the war in Ukraine ends or grinds to a halt.”
How long Vucic can sustain that policy will also depend on whether the EU and the US tolerate Belgrade’s non-alignment on sanctions, Damjanovic said, adding that western displeasure would run up against Serbian public opinion and the country’s…
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