PM Vucic Wins Serbia's Presidential Election
Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic celebrate his win at presidential election in his headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
Conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won Serbia's presidential election on Sunday by a huge margin, confirming his domination of the Balkan country as he pursues a delicate balancing act between Europe and Russia.
Vucic, 47, avoided a run-off by taking around 55 percent of votes; his nearest rival, opposition candidate and former rights advocate Sasa Jankovic, trailed on just over 16 percent, according to a two projections by polling groups CRTA and Ipsos.
Vucic 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.
The result marked a political humiliation for Serbia's beleaguered opposition parties, which say Vucic's rule is increasingly autocratic.
Vucic made clear his change of job would not alter the former Yugoslav republic's geopolitical balance between the European Union, which Vucic wants Serbia to join, and Russia, with which Serbs share their Orthodox Christian faith and Slavic heritage.
He thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, both of whom he met during the election campaign.
"For me it is important this election demonstrated that a large majority of Serbian citizens favors the continuation of the European path while maintaining close ties with China and Russia," Vucic told cheering supporters.
3rd April 2017