Serbia votes for new parliament, Premier Vucic set to win third term

Voting began sluggishly in Serbian parliamentary elections Sunday with 8.5 per cent of voters showing up in the first three hours of the vote, the state elections commission said.

At the same time two years earlier, the number of voters had reached 9 per cent, leading to a final turnout of 53 per cent.

Conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic called the elections halfway through his term, saying that he wants a full four-year term to carry out reforms and membership talks with the European Union.

A former hardline nationalist who turned into a pro-EU moderate, Vucic and his Progressive Party (SNS) have been tipped to win by a landslide, repeating his triumph from two years ago. The 2012 elections were also called two years ahead of the scheduled date.

In the coming years, Serbia faces tough measures for progress toward EU membership and for a revival of its unproductive economy and moribund state-owned sector. Unemployment persistently hovers around 30 per cent and the average monthly wage is around 400 dollars.

The SNS is predicted to emerge from the polls controlling a comfortable majority in parliament, allowing Vucic, 46, to follow through with reforms without depending on coalition partners to lead after his third polls since 2012.

Meanwhile the opposition is expected to fragment even further with the entry of two far-right parties to parliament.

Around 6.7 million voters are eligible to cast ballots until polling stations close at 8 pm (1800 GMT).

Last update: Sun, 24/04/2016 - 16:52

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