Landslide Win for Serbia's Pro-EU PM

Serbia's pro-EU Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won a landslide victory in general elections, the electoral commission confirmed Monday after nearly all ballots were counted.

Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party won 48.25 percent of the vote, giving him 131 MPs in the 250-seat parliament -- down from 158 in the last election, the commission said based on 98 percent of votes counted.

The Socialists, Vucic's coalition partners in the outgoing government, came second with 11.01 percent of the vote.

They were followed by the far-right Radicals led by ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, who won 8.05 percent of the vote. Seselj was recently acquitted of war crimes charges arising from the 1990s Balkans conflicts.

The anti-EU and pro-Russian Radicals saw a resurgence of support and were set to return to parliament with 21 MPs, after failing to win any seats in 2012 and 2014.

Four other political groupings also made it past the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament, according to the commission.

They were the centrist Democratic Party, a new liberal party called "Enough is Enough" ("Dosta je bilo"), a liberal coalition led by former Serbian president Boris Tadic, and a euroskeptic and pro-Russian coalition called DSS-Dveri.

Several groups representing ethnic minorities -- for which there is no threshold -- will also be present in the assembly following the vote -- Serbia's third in four years.

Vucic, premier since 2014, called the early election saying he needed a clear mandate to press ahead with the potentially-unpopular reforms required to join the European Union.

But critics saw the vote as an attempt to consolidate power, expressing concerns about the authoritarian tendencies of the 46-year-old premier, who has placed curbs on media freedom.

Vucic is a former ultra-nationalist ally of Seselj who has remodeled himself as a moderate reformist.

Sunday's election respected "fundamental freedoms" and offered voters a range of choice but the campaign period caused some concern, according to observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

PACE delegation head Volodymyr Ariev referred to "abuse by incumbents of the administrative advantages of office", "media coverage favorable to the ruling parties" and a "lack of full transparency in party and campaign funding".

But Ariev said they "don't have any information" about major electoral fraud after smaller parties claimed irregularities during voting.

Source: Agence France Presse

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