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First official record confirms victory of Serbian populist leader

BELGRADE – An early official count of Serbia’s national elections on Monday confirmed the landslide victory of President Aleksandar Vucic and his populist party – key Russian allies in the volatile Balkans and Europe.

Vucic scored a clear victory in Sunday’s presidential election with the support of around 60% of voters, while his Serbian Progressive Party won 43% of the vote, according to a near-complete count by the state electoral authorities.

The results mean that no runoff will be required in the presidential election and that Vucic’s party can form the next Serbian government in a coalition with junior partners in the 250-strong assembly.

The main opposition group, United for the Victory of Serbia, trailed the populists by around 13% of the vote in the parliamentary elections. The group’s presidential candidate, Zdravko Ponos, won 17%, official results showed.

Despite being so far behind nationwide, the opposition groups appeared to be in a close race with the populists in the capital, Belgrade, where ballots are still counted.

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Both the opposition groups and independent observers have listed a number of irregularities and incidents, including violent ones. Ruling populists have denied vote-rigging or pressure on voters.

Since the party came to power in 2012, Vucic has gradually cracked down on mainstream media and institutions, taking complete control over the years. Vucic, a former ultranationalist, has served as defense minister, prime minister and president.

Vucic, who portrays himself as a guarantor of peace and stability amid the war in Ukraine, has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia despite formally requesting Serbia’s membership of the European Union.

After declaring victory on Sunday night, he said the new government will face difficult decisions but will try to maintain friendly relations with historically close Slavic ally Russia.

Most of the parties running in the election were right-leaning, reflecting the predominantly conservative mood among Serbia’s 6.5 million voters. For the first time, however, a green-left coalition made it into parliament, reflecting growing public interest in neglected environmental issues in the Balkan country.

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The turnout was almost 60%, which is higher than in recent polls.

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https://www.ksat.com/news/world/2022/04/04/early-official-tally-confirms-win-for-serbia-populist-leader/ First official record confirms victory of Serbian populist leader

Andrew Schnitker

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