Pro-European tilt in Serbian vote
The Democratic Party received 39 percent of the vote to Radicals' 29 percent. But coalition-building maneuvers mean the shape of the next government is still unclear.
(Page 2 of 2)
Analysts had expected a closer result between Serbia's two largest parties. "It is a surprising result, but there is a clear explanation for what happened," said Zoran Lucic of the election monitoring body CeSID. "The signing of the SAA boosted Tadic. The voters thought it would be crazy to vote for Nikolic. They wanted a better life. It means Serbia now has a very clear European future."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
That is the hope of Mihailovic. "I think that the older generation are more nationalist, and they are gradually leaving the political scene. A new generation is taking over in Serbia- the pro-European generation," she says. "This generation is a safest way of getting things in order in Serbia."
She knows how difficult life in Serbia can be: She works full-time in a launderette to afford student life in Belgrade, where prices have been steadily rising over the past year, and earns just €250 a month.
"It's time for politicians to stop doing things out of spite, and start doing things for real," she says. "If the Radicals are in the government, years will be lost in Serbia. I will lose precious years. There will be no progress, just more fighting about everything."
Raseta laughs at this. "That's what we have now," she says. "I'm disappointed with yesterday's result because I expected real change and nothing happened. Tadic is too weak to change anything here."
The battle for the support of the Serbian population has been bitter, and at least half of the electorate will find themselves living under a government they cannot relate to. Indeed, there are fears that the inconclusive result might lead to a long period of political horse-trading. Late strongman Slobodan Milosevic's former party, the Socialist Party of Serbia, is now tipped to play a kingmaker role in forming the new government. They could choose to support the Democrats or join a coalition with the Radicals and outgoing Prime Minister Kostunica's DSS party.
Raseta says she wants to travel outside Serbia, but is afraid of EU membership. "Serbia is too small and poor to be in the EU. I think they will limit us," she says. "It would be nice to travel without a visa though," she adds, almost shyly.
Mihailovic is cautious in her obvious relief at last night's result. "The nationalists will always be a threat to Serbia's European hopes," she warns. "But hopefully the threat will shrink with time."
But while Mihailovic disagrees with an independent Kosovo, she says she wants to forget about it. "All my life I have heard about Kosovo," she says. "EU membership would change the way people think in Serbia. We could leave the past behind."
The Democrats' victory shows that substantial numbers of Serbs agree with her, and makes Serbia's European path much more secure. But there is still much genuine resentment felt by Serbs towards the West over Kosovo's independence.
"Serbia is still a divided country," Raseta says. "We don't have any middle ground – only extremes from either side."
• Reuters material was used in this report.