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Serbia and Montenegro: Foreign Minister Says Failed Poll 'Giant Step Back'

Belgrade, 17 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Goran Svilanovic, the foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, says the country's third failed attempt to elect a president yesterday is a "giant step back." The poll has been annulled due to voter turnout of 37 percent -- well below the required 50 percent minimum. It was the third failure by Serbian voters to elect a president in just over a year's time due to low turnout.

Svilanovic today said the strong showing by ultranationalist Tomislav Nikolic -- who received about 46 percent of the vote -- will "no doubt" affect the international standing of Serbia and Montenegro.

Aleksandar Vucic, a top official with Nikolic's Radical Party, yesterday told the Reuters news agency the results bode well for the party in early parliamentary elections scheduled for 28 December.

"After this, we are convinced that we [the Radical Party] will be the strongest party after [the parliamentary elections on] 28 December," Vucic said.

Yesterday, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic called on voters not to reject pro-reform candidates in the poll next month.