Pro-European Union party wins big in Serbian election
BELGRADE, Serbia — In a parliamentary election on Sunday, Serbs gave a landslide victory to the ruling center-right party that has vowed to overhaul the nation's struggling economy and push for membership in the European Union, according to an independent poll.
The Belgrade-based CeSID polling group said the Serbian Progressive Party won about 160 seats in in the country's 250-seat parliament. Its coalition partner in the Serbian government, the Serbian Socialist Party, came in second, with about 50 seats.
The rest of the seats went to the pro-Western Democratic Party and the New Democratic Party of former President Boris Tadic, the two groups that split up before the vote.
It was one of the most convincing victories by a party since the multiparty system was introduced in Serbia in the 1990s.
The Progressives are expected to choose their leader Aleksandar Vucic — a former hard-line, pro-Russian nationalist who has become a pro-EU advocate — as prime minister.
The vote arrived as Serbia, a longtime international pariah for fomenting wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, is officially seeking entry into the EU, amid deep economic problems and simmering social discontent because of plunging living standards.
Serbia this year opened membership talks with the EU after signing a deal normalizing ties with Kosovo, a former province that split in 2008, but whose independence Serbia refuses to recognize.
Vucic says he needs a strong mandate to carry out painful reforms needed to help Serbia's economy, which has been ravaged by mismanagement, wars and international sanctions.
The opposition has accused him of seeking to introduce a Russian-type, hard-line leadership in Serbia by assuming dominant powers in the state, which is deeply split between pro-Russian and pro-Western sentiment.