On April 2nd, Serbs were called to the polls to elect a new President. Besides national territory, voting also took place at 90 polling stations in Kosovo and at 53 polling stations in 23 other foreign countries. Aleksandar Vučić, conservative Prime Minister won an impressive victory in Sunday’s first round presidential election by a huge margin, confirming his domination of the EU candidate country as he seeks to keep a foreign policy balanced between Europe and Russia. As various media reported during last days before the election, the big question wasn’t if he was about to win or not, but when. Vučić managed to get around 55 percent of votes leaving far behind his rivals, with Sasa Jankovic coming second with around 16 percent of votes, according to Centre for Free Elections and Democracy.

Proud of the support he received, Vučić told reporters at a press conference Sunday night: “I got 12 per cent more votes than all the other candidates put together.”

“When you have results like this, there is no instability – Serbia is strong and it will be even stronger,” he added.

According to political analysts, Vučić triumph gives him enormous power assuring a strong political position for the next 5 years. Even though the position of President in Serbia is much less influential than the Prime Minister, it is expected that Vučić will keep control over the key decisions in a country as the most powerful political figure of the ruling party. This would confirm a widespread belief among political analysts that in Serbia political personality is more important than the institution.

Last year, on several occasions Vučić repeated he didn’t intent to run for president, but surprisingly he changed his mind in February. According to national media, the new decision provoked a brief crisis in the relations with the now president Nikolic who expected to be the candidate of the ruling SNS once more. In November 2016, Vučić said it was for him inadmissible to have a political for a president.

He will take on the largely ceremonial post at the end of May but is expected to retain de facto power through his control of Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party. Not being obliged to resign by the law, he kept his position as PM during his campaign.

Two contradictions have strongly marked his political career. Former radical nationalist, Vučić besides expressing shame over Bosnian Serb war crimes, engaged in the EU-led dialogue for the normalisation of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina. The second contradiction is linked to his balanced foreign policy, on one side aspiring to join the EU, and on the other one keeping strong ties with Russia.

President-elect made clear his change of job would not alter the Serbia’s geopolitical balance between the European Union, which Vučić wants Serbia to join, and Russia, with which Serbs share their Orthodox Christian faith and Slavic background.

« For me it is important this election demonstrated that a large majority of Serbian citizens favours the continuation of the European path while maintaining close ties with China and Russia, » Vučić told cheering supporters.

Zana Çanaku

To find out more:

http://www.euractiv.com/section/elections/news/serbian-pm-confirms-domination-with-presidential-win/

http://www.politico.eu/article/vucic-heads-for-victory-in-serbian-presidential-vote/

http://www.euronews.com/2017/04/03/serbian-premier-aleksandar-vucic-elected-president

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/vucic-s-victory-means-serious-changes-in-serbian-politics-analysts-04-02-2017

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39474145