By Bojana Barlovac
In a surprising twist, Serbia’s nationalist Tomislav Nikolic has won the presidential runoff against the leader of the Democrats Boris Tadic.
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 to all 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, as he promised if he gets elected.
His victory is poised to disturb the comfortable rule of the Democrats led coalition, who were clearly counting on holding the presidency.
Tadic of the Democrats has congratulated Nikolic for 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 will not be the prime minister. Democrats have previously agreed with 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 in eight years, during the rule of Tadic.
Nikolic, now 60, entered politics as the right-hand man of the ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj with whom he founded the Serbian Radical Party in 1991.
In the 1990s, this ruthless, intelligent politician was Seselj’s front man in the Serbian parliament but he only fully took over the reins after 2003 when Seselj departed to The Hague to answer war crimes charges.
Nikolic, whose former job won him the “Undertaker” nickname, will be remembered for having first pledged grand new borders for a Greater Serbia – only to jettison the whole 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 in 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.