27/06/2004 - Results - 2nd round
After having spent a year and a half without a Head of State Serbia finally managed to elect a successor to Milan Milutinovic, who is at present being held by the International Criminal Court for Former Yugoslavia in The Hague - and this is Boris Tadic. The latter won 53.7% of the vote during the second round of the presidential election that took place on 27th June versus 45% for Tomislav Nikokic. The low turn-out rate (48.7%, i.e. one point more than during the first round on 13th June last) was finally to the benefit of Boris Tadic. The turn-out rate was particularly high in the capital Belgrade as well as the region of Voïvodina where many minorities live. On Sunday evening Tomislav Nikolic condemned what he qualified as "the victory of the town centres and national minorities".
Boris Tadic, a 46 year old psychologist, was previously Telecommunications Minister in Zoran Djindjic's government and then Defence Minister, a position he gave up last March. He is the first non-communist to become President of the Republic of Serbia. The democrat candidate committed himself to creating new jobs and to setting up a "Popular Office", a structure for arbitration that should help "those whose rights are being threatened". Boris Tadic, the political heir to former Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated on 12th March 2003, should enable his country to make progress along the road to drawing closer to the European Union. "I want to continue what my friend Zoran Djindjic started. There is no other alternative, integration into Europe and the Euro-Atlantic structures are not only part of Serbia's destiny but it is also a question of what its citizens want. Without joining the European Union we shall not be able to solve our society's problems", he declared.
Although Boris Tadic enjoyed the support of the entire democrat camp, heavy international pressure was necessary however to convince Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), to call for a vote in his favour. The government coalition candidate, Dragan Marsicanin, vice-president of the Democratic Party and present Economy Minister failed during the first round of the election on 13th June last in a duel that brought him into opposition against Boris Tadic and only won 13.3% of the vote. "It is important that the future President of Serbia supports unequivocally a policy that allows for stability and progress. In the accomplishment of this objective and this policy Boris Tadic, the candidate to the Presidency, enjoys the support of the Democratic Party of Serbia" declared Vojislav Kostunica. Boris Tadic also received the support of Vlade Divac, a basketball player with the Kings of Sacramento a truly national idol in Serbia.
Tomislav Nikokic acknowledged his defeat as soon as the results were announced. "I congratulate Boris Tadic on his election, the fight was a tight one and I am satisfied with the number of votes I won. I thank the electorate", declared the nationalist candidate during a press conference that he held at his party's - the Radical Party (SRS) - headquarters.
The results of this second round were a relief to the European Union, since it had been greatly concerned at the possible election of Tomislav Nikokic. Chris Patten, European Commissioner for External Relations and Javier Solana, High Representative for the Foreign Policy of the European had in fact reminded the Serbs during the week leading up to the election how important their vote was for the European future of their country. Via its representative in Belgrade, Geoffrey Barrett, the EU said that it was "extremely satisfied... it is a good result for Serbia and for democracy in Serbia and that will help to clarify the political arena". The USA had also warned against a vote that might contribute to creating a distance with the Western world. "The USA would like to see a free and equitable presidential election in Serbia on 27th June that is run according to the criteria of the international community. This election is an opportunity to confirm Serbia's transformation into a democratic, peaceful State governed the strength of the law... we encourage the Serbs to vote and to continue to support the democratic reforms that were launched on 5th October 2000 after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic", declared Adam Ereli, deputy spokesperson for the American State Department.
There was much speculation about the possibility of a ministerial reshuffle or the re-organisation of the Serb political arena, even early elections. Boris Tadic did however believe that this was not a matter on the agenda. "I am not a vehicle of destruction who would seek out the overthrow of the present government and provoke early general elections. The sharing of power between a government and a president who do not belong to the same parties is possible", he maintained. The Serbs, who have been called to vote four times in the last year and a half (for three presidential elections and for the general elections), perhaps need their leaders to succeed in coming together and to show them the way to political and economic reconstruction rather than to organise another round of elections.
Results of the second round of the presidential election in Serbia 27th June 2004
Turnn-out rate: 48.7%
Source: Agence France Presse