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Divisions loom after Serb elections
Nationalists try to muster support after pro-EU rivals claim parliamentary poll win.
Last Modified: 13 May 2008 04:40 GMT

Nikolic is hoping to deprive the pro-Western bloc
the chance of forming the new government [AFP]

Serbia's nationalists are holding talks to win support from other parties to form a government after their pro-Western rivals' claim of victory in Sunday's elections.
 
The parliamentary vote has left Serbians sharply split over whether to join the EU or shift towards their traditional ally, Russia, and revert to their nationalist past.
Boris Tadic, the president, announced "a great day for Serbia" after an independent monitoring group and partial results from the electoral commission gave his Coalition for a European Serbia a lead over the Radical party.
 
"You should celebrate, but I must go and negotiate," he said on Monday.
"Those will be tough negotiations".

For their part, the nationalists sought to join forces and form a government.
 
Nationalist manoeuvring
 
Tomislav Nikolic, the acting leader from the Radical party, met Vojislav Kostunica, the outgoing nationalist prime minister, on Monday to see if they could form a government together.
 
"There is a clear chance that a government will be formed that will not include Tadic's party," Nikolic said.
 

Voices

Voters tell Al Jazeera who they voted for and why

Any alliance that can produce a 126-seat majority in the 250-seat parliament can govern.
 
Tadic's coalition appeared assured of 103 seats while Nikolic's Radicals were poised to get 76.
 
If the Radicals joined forces with Kostunica's bloc and the Socialists, their combined strength would be 127 seats.
 
Andreja Mladenovic, Kostunica's spokesman, said he would hold talks in the coming days with other parties, including late president Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist party, whose support looked to be decisive for either camp.
 

Kosovo on agenda

 

The Socialists said they would start talks with Kostunica's party on Tuesday. 

 

"At the moment, everyone is expecting Kostunica and the Radicals and us to form a coalition, but we still haven't talked," Branko Ruzic, a vice-president of the Socialists party, told Al Jazeera.

 

"We will also talk to Mr Tadic because he won the election.

 

"What will be the outcome, I'm not sure, but ... we need to have a government that keeps the national interests of Serbia.

 

In Video


High turnout marks Serbia's bitterly fought campaign

"We need to have guarantees that no one will give up Kosovo for a European future that we cannot see," he said.

 

Nikolic also accused Tadic of inciting violence by proclaiming victory.

 
But Tadic made clear he saw the outcome as a mandate to take the country into the EU.
 
He warned his opponents "not to tamper with the will of the people'" and pledged to prevent the formation of a nationalist government.
 
Tadic also was expected to court the Socialists and their 21 seats.
 
Western reaction
 
The European Union called the success of Tadic's coalition a "clear victory" by pro-European forces.
 
The US embassy in Belgrade said in a statement that "the Serbian electorate has clearly demonstrated that its heart is in Europe".
 
Serbia election


Voters divided over relationship with Europe

"Serbia's citizens have spoken out in favour of a prosperous future inside the Western community," it said.
 
Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, said pro-European parties have won an "important moral victory".
 
But he cautioned that "there is no altogether unambiguous majority. The manoeuvring can take a great deal of time".
 
Tabulation
 
Near-complete official results released on Monday corresponded to projections by the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy and tabulations by the main parties.
 
The institute, whose representatives observed vote tallying at polling stations across Serbia, said Tadic's bloc had 39 per cent.
 
It said the Radicals ran a distant second with 28.6 per cent, and Kostunica's bloc had about 11.6 per cent.
 
The Socialists had about 8.2 per cent - their best result since Milosevic's ouster in 2000.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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