13/06/2004 - Results
The nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic, interim president of the Radical Party (SRS) of Vojislav Seselj, came in first place during the first round of the Serbian presidential election on June 13th, receiving 30.44% of the vote. In second place was Boris Tadic, leader of the Democratic Party (DS), who obtained 27.60% of the vote. Businessman Bogoljub Karic surprised many by coming in third with 19% of the vote. He was followed by Dragan Marsicanin, the vice president of the DSS Party, of which the Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is also a member. Dragan Marsicanin is currently Minister of the Economy, and lost in his duel with Boris Tadic.
As predicted in opinion polls, Tomislav Nikolic was the clear winner of the first round, confirming the predominance of the nationalist forces in Serbia. Let us recall that the Radical Party had become the top political party in the country at the time of the legislative elections in December 2003, gaining one third of the two hundred and fifty seats of the Parliament. In addition, a month earlier, on November 16, 2003, Tomislav Nikolic received 45% of the votes cast in the second round of the presidential election, largely outnumbering votes received by Dragoljub Micunovic, the candidate of the coalition in power at the time. This vote was invalidated due to lack of sufficient participation.
Tomislav Nikolic has since declared himself in favor of cooperation between Serbia, the European Union, and the United States – the country responsible for the current situation in Serbia - leading to a closer to relationship with Russia. The nationalist leader, in fact, announced that Russia would be the first country he would visit should he be elected. "As soon as I am elected, I will leave for Moscow immediately. That will be my first trip. Serbia can do nothing without the support of Moscow," he declared. Nikolic hopes for the same in the upcoming elections. The leader of SRS affirmed, "It is necessary to begin anew, to start from scratch. I will convene the much-anticipated legislative elections, then the local elections, and finally we must come to an agreement on Kosovo and Metohija."
On the other side of the spectrum, Boris Tadic presents himself as the only person capable of pursuing the reforms begun by Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated on March 12th, 2003. He hopes to be the "President /Ambassador of the Serbian economy" and the "President/Attorney for the rights of citizens." For this presidential election, the leader of the Democratic Party took his campaign on the road, visiting Washington, Brussels, and Moscow. "The formula for the future of Serbia lies in a balance between the United States, the European Union and Russia; the three most important places in the world where Belgrade must find allies" Tadic declared. The Democratic candidate is overtly in favor of Serbia's adhesion to the European Union. "Without adhesion to the European Union, we will not be able to resolve our society's problems," he affirmed. Boris Tadic also declares himself to be in favor of cooperation between his country and the International Penal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He asserted this belief in saying, "Serbia, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged to cooperate with the International Penal Tribunal for war crimes, if not we risk being isolated from the global scene."
The businessman Bogoljub Karic, who came in third in the first round, has thrown his support behind Boris Tadic for the second round of the presidential election. "It is necessary that real reforms are made, helping Serbia to adopt the international standards that the European Union asks of us. Politicians must stop lying and attempting to trick the citizens. The European Union is a family - a serious on at that - and often our politicians do not take it seriously," declared the businessman, often described as the "Serbian Berlusconi".
"The election is of exceptional importance to the future of this country," declared Boris Tadic during the announcement of the results of the first round. On June 27th, one will indeed be able to measure the true ratio of forces existing between Serbia's Democratic and the Nationalist Parties. If the powers of the President of the Republic are limited to Serbia, particularly in light of the creation of the State of Serbia and Montenegro, a victory for Tomislav Nikolic could render more difficult the reforms begun by Vojislav Kostunica. This could make the bringing together of Serbia and the Western and European Union communities increasingly more difficult.