Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Serbia

Serbians Vote In Parliamentary Elections

A man reads balloting instructions at a polling station in Kosovo's ethnically divided town of Mitrovica before casting his vote in the Serbian elections on March 16.
A man reads balloting instructions at a polling station in Kosovo's ethnically divided town of Mitrovica before casting his vote in the Serbian elections on March 16.
By RFE/RL's Balkan Service
Polls have closed in Serbia's early presidential election after a sluggish turnout.

The Central Election Commission said it expected final turnout above 50 percent, as two hours before polls closed nearly 46 percent of voters had cast ballots.

The country's 6.7 million eligible voters were to choose 250 lawmakers.

The ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by onetime ultranationalist Aleksandar Vucic forced the early election halfway through the government's term, saying it wanted a stronger voter mandate for an anticorruption campaign and other reforms.

An exit poll suggests a big win for the SNS in the election, which it announced in January, days after the European Union launched membership talks with Serbia.

I just want to say that we are ready to extend our hand to everyone, and that we want to talk and cooperate and that we won’t underestimate anyone because of their elections results. I am sure that Serbia will continue it’s European path, and I am sure that Serbia will closely cooperate with all its friends in the world, with Russians, with Americans, with Chinese and with everyone else," Vucic told supporters gathered in Belgrade after polls closed.

The exit poll indicates the SNS's governing partner, the Socialists, running in second place.

The opposition Democratic Party is expected to finish third.

The country's weak economy was a leading topic of the campaign.

One-fifth of Serbia's workforce is unemployed and the average monthly salary is 350 euros.

Another key challenge will be to slash a bloated public sector that employs more than 700,000 people.

With reporting by B92, AFP and dpa

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