According to the preliminary results outgoing Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Aleksandar Vučić, has obtained 55,1% of the votes and secured a win in the first round of the presidential elections on the 2nd of April. Former Ombudsman and independent candidate Saša Janković came in second with 16,3% of the votes and Luka Maksimović Beli (Whitty) obtained 9,4% of the votes. The turnout was 54,2%. Although there were no major incidents on the election day, Vučić had a great advantage in resources and air time during the campaign.
Vučić stated during his victory speech that this win is clear as a whistle and that he obtained 12% more votes than other candidates combined. He added that for SNS it is very important “to continue the fight against corruption and to further strengthen the democratic institutions”. His campaign focused on stability, even urging voters to vote for him in order to prevent a Macedonian scenario. At the 2016 parliamentary elections a SNS-led coalition obtained 48% of the votes. According to analysts, one of the main reason for Vučić to run for president was the fact that he was not sure current President Nikolić could win the elections.
The result is disappointing for the opposition that hoped Vučić would remain under the 50%, making an upset in the second round possible. Janković – who was supported by the main opposition Democratic Party (DS) – remained optimistic however: “This is a victory of Serbia that is not the same anymore”, reflecting to his call during the campaign not to fear the regime. “This is just the beginning”, he added. As an independent candidate who gained popularity as a government critical Ombudsman Janković campaign was focused around anti-corruption and, as he calls it, ownership of the state by Vučić and his party.
A 25-years old student Luka Maksimović Beli was the big surprise of the elections. The strength of his alter ego Beli – white suit, woolen socks, white horse and an authoritarian style – was that he held a mirror up to the Serbian society by using humor. With the slogan ‘the poor strike back’ young people and those disappointed in politics voted for Beli as an anti-establishment vote.
It is unclear yet who will replace Vučić as prime minister.