March 13, 2012
Serbia’s president on Tuesday called parliamentary elections for May 6, when his ruling democrats will face a strong challenge from nationalists even as Serbia became a candidate for European Union membership.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Belgrade, SERBIA – The IndependenTNewsweeK
Boris Tadic signed a decree setting the key vote for the 250-seat national assembly. According to the 2006 Constitution, Kosovo remains part of Serbia. Article 182 states that Serbia has two autonomous provinces, Vojvodina and Kosovo and Metohija, adding that the latter’s autonomy will be defined with separate law.
However, since Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008, such a law has never been adopted. The decision not to go ahead with the polls in Kosovo comes after months of mulling the consequences of extending spring elections to the ex-province.
Brussels, which granted Serbia candidate status on March 1, has conditioned future progress towards accession talks on Serbia’s further progress in talks with Kosovo. General and local elections are due in Serbia on May 6.
Serbia organised both parliamentary and local elections in Serb-majority areas in Kosovo in 2008, but the UN authority in Kosovo, UNMIK, as well as the Kosovo government, condemned them as illegitimate.
In January, Ivanovic had suggested that Kosovo would indeed be included in the 2012 elections. Leaving out Kosovo “would be politically inconceivable”, he told Balkan Insight back then.
After the signing, Tadic urged the Serbian citizens to vote in large numbers and said the future government should be formed immediately after the election so that it would tackle Serbia’s many problems.
“The future government will have to make tough and complex decisions to secure a better future for the citizens,” he said.
In recent years, Nikolic has succeeded in attracting disenchanted Serbs by railing against corruption and social injustice, while distancing himself from the founder of the Serbian Radicals, Vojislav Seselj, who is standing a war crimes trial at a U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands.
In the process of his political transformation, Nikolic has claimed to have shifted from staunchly anti-Western, to pro-EU.
Nikolic and his party appear to be Kremlin’s choice for Serbia’s new leaders. He made several recent trips to Moscow for consultations with top Russian officials.