Nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolić has caused an upset in Serbia after beating the odds and defeating the country’s incumbent president Boris Tadić in a run-off vote, drawing almost 50 percent of the vote on Sunday, 20. May 2012. Tadić won 46,7 percent – a bitter defeat. Surveys conducted just ahead of the second round vote had predicted Tadić would secure a comfortable win with up to 58 per cent of the vote. This was an electoral earthquake, a totally unexpected result. However turnout may have been as low as 46%, speculating that voters were frustrated by a lack of choice. While the ruling parties did well in parliamentary elections two weeks ago maybe voters now decided it was the time to punish them a bit.
Tadić had defeated Nikolić in Serbia’s last two presidential elections in 2004 and 2008. He quickly conceded defeat congratulating Nikolić, who promised to steer a pro-European course, on “a fair and well-earned victory”. Analysts say Tadić paid the price of the difficult economic and social situation in Serbia, where one-in-four people are unemployed. Nikolić, took advantage of the dismal situation in his election campaign, never trying to point at Tadić as the man responsible for the crisis.
Thousands of Nikolić supporters gathered in central Belgrade and other Serbian towns late Sunday, honking their horns in celebration.
Tomislav Nikolić (born 1952) once served as a deputy prime minister under the former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević, who was put on trial for genocide at The Hague. He was also in government when Nato bombed Serbia in 1999 and once said he would rather see the country ally itself with Russia than join the EU. However he and his Progressive Party have since made serious efforts to rebrand themselves.
Photographs by: Marko Rupena, Nemanja Pančić, Milovan Milenković, Nemanja Jovanović, Marko Risović and Saša Čolić