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Serbia Elections: First round to pro russian Nikolic, once allied with strongman Milosevic.

Nationalist Nikolic wins presidential first round in Serbia.Photo Credit AFP A. Isakovic

Once allied of Slobodan Milosevic, the pro-russian Serbian populist nationalist Tomislav Nikolic won against all the odds Sunday’s presidential election in Serbia.

Nikolic won 49.4% against 47.4% for current President and Europeist Mr  Boris Tadic, according to partial results on a nationally representative sample considered by the CESID, an independent body responsible for monitoring the poll.

Nikolic immediately wanted to reassure  the European option on his country. “Serbia will continue its European way (…) This election has not focused on the EU but that to solve the Serbian economic problems created by the Government “ Mr Tadic Nikolic told the press.

Serbia should develop its economy, curb poverty and get rid of corruption “said Mr. Nikolic, once allied to the former strongman Serbia Milosevic.

His alliance before the second round with a party hostile to the EU had been used by his opponents to putin doubt the seriousness of his commitment to joining the 27-nation bloc.

There was a very low turnout that could had been favorable to the winner of the election.

Fervent pro-European, Tadic, 54 – who led Serbia, politically and economically isolated in the 1990s, the threshold of the EU – said a possible abandonment of the European path would represent “an tragic error “.” As a former president of Serbia, even if my words are heard, I urge the maintenance of the strategy leading to the EU, ” Tadic said. Serbia has been granted in March the status of candidate for EU integration, and expected to get a date for starting negotiations.

Nikolic, 60, converted into a populist pro-European after havinglong denied such an option for his country, had bet on including the growing discontent of the population due to the poor economic situation in Serbia, where unemployment increased to the  24 % of the population.

In the evening, in the main towns of Serbia, Mr. Nikolic supporters gathered outside the headquarters of his party to celebrate the victory. In Belgrade, however, the atmosphere did not convey enthusiasm. Nikolic had lost twice, in 2004 and 2008 presidential elections against Tadic.