Far-right set for gains as Serbia prime minister seeks election backing for EU push

Serbians began voting Sunday in a general election that is likely to return pro-European prime minister Aleksandar Vucic to power but also give a voice in parliament to the pro-Russian far-right. While Mr Vucic’s nominally conservative Serbian Progressive Party is projected to win about half of the votes, ultra-nationalists who want the Balkan country to deepen its alliance with Russia are also expected to win seats. Mr Vucic said the election was needed for him to have a clear mandate to press ahead with the reforms required for Serbia to join the EU. Choosing the past would make Serbia “a European leper again”, he said.

These are elections for the future of Serbia. We will not allow a return to the dark times which we believed were long gone

Serbia prime minister Aleksandar Vucic

With the early election marking Serbia’s third in four years, voters in the country of seven million people appeared unenthusiastic as they stood in line at polling stations, which opened early on Sunday morning. In Belgrade, retired Jelica Nikolic, 68, said she and her husband Radomir were voting more out of duty than conviction. "We have elections too often,“ she added. "I hope that these elections will bring real change,” said Damir Urosevic, a 41-year-old doctor, after voting in the capital.

Serbia will be safe only if it aligns with Moscow, which has always helped us and never bombed us. Serbia can expect nothing good from the EU

Ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party