On May 6th the French vote for a president and the Greeks and Armenians for parliaments. For Serbs it is the big bang: they will vote for a president, a parliament, in local elections and, in the province of Vojvodina, for a regional assembly. In Kosovo too, many Serbs may vote, but this is contentious and could lead to violence. Kosovo aside, the Serbian elections are a cliffhanger. Polls give President Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party (DS) just under 36% and Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), just over 36%. A run-off between the two a fortnight later is likely, and the result will be influenced by the parliamentary election. Mr Tadic sells himself as pro-European and pro-reform. But he looks tired and the economy is in dire straits. One poll finds 80% of Serbs are dissatisfied and angry, 77% feel helpless and hopeless and 60% are just depressed. The latest score for the SNS and its allies is 33.5%, with the DS and its allies trailing on 28.3%. Yet it may be easier for the DS than for the SNS to find other coalition partners.
The kingmaker is likely to be Ivica Dacic, leader of the Socialist Party, which with its allies is polling at 11.8%. Mr Dacic is the artful dodger of Serbian politics. In the war years he was a spokesman for Slobodan Milosevic. When Mr Milosevic fell in 2000 and was put on trial for war crimes, Mr Dacic stepped in to save the party. Now he is interior minister and a master of populist bluster. When Serbs were arrested in Kosovo, some with election materials, he arrested some Kosovo Albanians, boasting that this was a reciprocal measure.
Mr Dacic is likely to stick with the DS, but he could choose to switch horses to the SNS if they make him a better offer (such as the premiership). The SNS was started in 2008 when Mr Nikolic and Aleksandar Vucic led their followers out of the extreme nationalist Radical Party, whose leader is also on trial for war crimes.
Full Article: Serbia’s elections: Cliffhangers | The Economist.