Serbia's Vucic loses ground, far-right party advances in repeat vote

A second far-right party won seats Wednesday in the Serbian Parliament, and the overall winner, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, still lost ground in a repeat election held on a small number of polling stations because of irregularities.

The coalition grouped around the extremist movement Dveri will take 13 members in the 250-seat parliament, after collecting barely more than 5 per cent of votes in the total tally.

Before the repeat vote on 15 polling stations with fewer than 20,000 registered voters - out of the 6.7 million votes in Serbia - Dveri was short of the mark by a single vote.

The balloting was repeated there because of irregularities reported by both the authorities and opposition in April 24 elections.

Had Dveri again failed to clear the hurdle, seven of their seats would have gone to Vucic's conservative Progressive Party, reducing their losses.

The outcome is a tough blow to Vucic, who will now command 131 votes in parliament - 27 fewer than before the elections he called halfway through his term, saying that he wants to cement his authority for reforms and EU membership talks.

Vucic and the group lined up behind his Progressive Party (SNS) did clearly win the elections, collecting 48.2 per cent of the vote, nearly exactly as much as in polls he also called early in 2014.

Then, however, only four parties won seats in parliament, which led to a massive redistribution of votes dispersed on non-qualifiers, which heavily favoured the SNS as lopsided winners.

Now seven tickets won seats and far fewer votes were available for redistribution, leaving Vucic with a majority only six above the halfway mark of 125 in parliament.

The Socialist Party, junior partners in the outgoing government coalition, won 30 seats. It is unclear whether the two blocs will renew their alliance after they skirmished in the campaign.

The far-right Radical Party returns to parliament after two years. Headed by Vojislav Seselj, who was cleared of charges in March at the UN war crimes tribunal, it has 21 seats.

A newcomer reformist bloc, called Enough, and the once mighty Democratic Party won 16 seats apiece, while the group led by the former Democrat leader and Serbian President Boris Tadic and Dveri have 13 seats each.

Ethnic minority representatives hold the remaining 10 seats.

The outcome is a surprise, as pollsters predicted that the SNS would win more than 50 per cent of the vote and be close to claiming a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Last update: Thu, 05/05/2016 - 12:06
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