Sunday, January 20, 2008

Serbia: second round, as expected, on high turnout

Radical Party candidate Tomislav Nikolić and current president/Democratic Party candidate Boris Tadić have finished 1-2 in the Serbian presidential election first round, as was widely expected. The greater surprise here was turnout, which was around 60 percent, well up from the last presidential poll in 2004 and roughly equivalent to turnout in last year's parliamentary poll.

Compared to the previous election, both leading candidates took higher shares of the vote (Nikolić at 39 percent and Tadić at 35 percent). A key question will be where supporters of the third-place candidate, Velimir Ilić of New Serbia (an ally of PM Vojislav Koštunica) decide to put their second-round votes.

If one assumes that Tadić takes most of the votes of Cedomir Jovanović (a liberal) and Ištvan Pastor (the Hungarian minority candidate) this gives him 43.2 percent; Nikolić gets the support of Milutin Mrkonijć (from Milosević's Socialists) for 45.4 percent. It therefore seems that much will turn on those who voted for Ilić, who took 7.6 percent in the first round. Note that in 2004, turnout for the second round was almost identical as for the first round.

RFE/RL has coverage. The numbers I have seen come from Wikipedia, and I am not sure of the original source.

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