Serbian Elections: Nationalist Renewal

A right-wing nationalist candidate produced a good showing in Serbia’s presidential election. But does it matter? The amount of support for such views is fairly consistent and is, if anything, a symptom of failed attempts to deal with underlying problems.

The World Today
Published 1 July 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 4 minute READ

James Pettifer

Author of The New Macedonia Question, Palgrave 2001

The victory of nationalist extremist radical party leader Tomislav Nikolic in the first round of the Serbian presidential election, with around a third of the vote, is likely to encourage the international community to mobilise support around his nearest challenger, Boris Tadic, for the second round at the end of June. This is the fourth attempt by Serbs to elect a president after previous failures because less than half of those eligible voted. This requirement has now been removed.

In the wider context of Serbia and the region, the result is likely to matter considerably less than some observers believe. The renewal of nationalism is only a symptom of the failure of post-conflict governments to resolve long-standing problems with the economy, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, and the future of Kosovo and Montenegro.

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