Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tadić looking for a second term in Serbia

Serbia goes to the polls tomorrow to elect a president. Expect current president Boris Tadić and Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolić to advance to the second round. Interestingly, it looks like ultranationalist Nikolić is running a slick campaign (reportedly helped by a Western PR firm) while the pro-EU Tadić is showing the Serbian flag whenever he can. A good sign, at least, that the two are trying to appeal to crossover voters. PM Vojislav Kostunica is backing a small-party candidate to gain more leverage in the second round (he probably will back Tadić in the end).

The question is whether Serbia has an alternative to Europe (answer: no, unless it becomes a Russian puppet state). Russia has reportedly been trying to pressure the Serbs, but they only want a relationship on their terms (read: Russian control over gas, Russian economic/political ties, in return for Russian support on Kosovo).

Picking Nikolić would be a throwback to the old days. If Tadić can win over most of the Serbs who want continued economic growth (the #1 issue despite all the talk about Kosovo), he should squeak by in the runoff which is almost certain to come.

See the Economist or RFE/RL (and an analysis from RFE). Wikipedia entry here.

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