(Vatican Radio) Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has scored a convincing victory in in the country’s presidential election, despite opposition concerns over his perceived autocratic style. With most votes counted it has become clear that he took around 55 percent of the vote, well above the 50 percent threshold to avoid a run-off. A satirical candidate protesting against widespread corruption and the political establishment also received many votes.
Listen to Stefan Bos' report
Champagne was flowing and supporters celebrated the Vucic's remarkable victory as it became clear he would become the country's new president. The results of Sunday's poll mark a political humiliation for Serbia’s beleaguered opposition parties. They had accused Vucic of becoming increasingly autocratic.
Vucic will take on the largely ceremonial post at the end of May. But critics view him as the resurrected Slobodan Milosevic, the
late Serbian strongman who ruled the country with an iron fist during the wars of the 1990s.
However Vucic claims to be a pro-Western politician seeking to join the European Union while at the same time keeping close relations with traditional ally Russia to please his mainly Serbian Orthodox voters. “For me it is important this election demonstrated that a large majority of Serbian citizens favour the continuation of the European path while maintaining close ties with China and Russia,” he said.
He is expected to retain de facto power through his control of Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party. Vucic’s closest challenger, former rights advocate Sasa Jankovic only scored 16 percent of the vote in this Balkan country of just over 7 million people.
The biggest surprise of the election was the young satirical comedian Luka Maksimovic who polled nearly 10 percent,
picking up votes of disappointed Serbs.
Sporting a white suit and a samurai-style ponytail, the 25-year-old newcomer complete with his oversized jewellery and rallying call
"Hit it Hard" was vying to break through the perceived corrupt political establishment.
While that did not happen, his strong following warned Vucic to keep campaign promises and improve the lives of many
in this Balkan nation, which is still recovering from the wounds of its recent bloodstained history.