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Serbian President Drops Election Bombshell

If reports of Nikolic’s decision to stand for another term pan out, a feud with ruling party leaders seems inevitable.

16 February 2017

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic’s (pictured) reported decision to run for re-election this spring could herald a power struggle within the ruling party.

 

Several news outlets reported Nikolic’s decision yesterday, even though leaders of his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) named Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic as its presidential candidate just a day earlier.

 

Sources in Nikolic’s cabinet told the Tanjug news agency they could neither confirm nor deny the report, B92 reports.

 

Vucic did not reply to Tanjug’s question about Nikolic’s candidacy. The current president is said to have made the decision to run at his 65th birthday party on Wednesday night.

 

The first deputy premier and foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, said that if true, the news was "disgraceful," B92 says.

 

Nikolic’s office could not immediately be reached for a comment, Balkan Insight says.

 

Nikolic and Vucic co-founded SNS in 2008 as a spinoff from the far-right Radical Party. 

 

Prior to yesterday’s developments, the party’s announcement of Vucic’s nomination suggested he would hold talks with Nikolic in, as RFE/RL put it, “an effort to avoid any split within the party's ranks.”

 

Nikolic is seen as more of a hardliner, particularly on Kosovo. During the controversy over a train laden with Serbian national and Orthodox symbols which was halted at the Kosovo border, he said he was ready to go to war “to defend Serbs in Kosovo.”

 

Vucic’s candidacy has already received the backing of the other three parties in the governing coalition, Balkan Insight reports.

The SNS will make the final decision on Vucic’s candidacy tomorrow, according to B92.

 

 

  • Nikolic was elected in 2012. He has previously said he expects SNS support for this year’s elections, due to take place in March or April.

 

  • Last month Nikolic told journalists, "We don't want war, but if it is necessary to protect Serbs from being killed, we will send an army to Kosovo. We will send soldiers; we'll all go. I'll go, and it won't be the first time that I go [to defend Serbs]," RFE reports. 

 

  • Vucic said he would not rule out the possibility of snap elections.

 

  • Another potential presidential candidate is Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, a fierce critic of the government’s goal of EU membership and the policy of greater cooperation with Kosovo.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer


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