Polls open in Serbia's presidential election

Conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is the runaway favourite to win Serbia's presidential elections while the opposition has been unable to field a united candidate to run against him.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Milica Vucic, daughter of Serbian prime minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic (behind) at a polling station during the presidential election in Belgrade, Serbia, April 2, 2017.

Updated Apr 3, 2017

Voting in Serbia’s presidential election has started on Sunday with conservative Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic hoping to tighten his grip on power despite opposition warnings about the extent of his domination over the Balkan country, balanced between the West and Russia.

​Vucic, 47, is the runaway favourite to win the presidential elections while the opposition has been unable to field a united candidate to run against him.

He is expected to win the first round with more than 50 percent of the vote and retain real power through his control of Serbia's ruling Progressive Party.

But if he fails to win a majority in the first round, a second round run-off will be held on April 16.

"Whoever gets into the office should place more focus on the young. We have had enough of these pensioners who swap parties but it is always the same people who are on the lists," said Dragoljub Zivanovic, a Belgrade resident.

Vucic wants to make Serbia a member of the EU while it requires a balance between the bloc and Russia as Serbs share their Orthodox Christian faith and Slavic heritage.

The election is unlikely to change the country’s balancing act between the EU and Russia.

Pollsters said a high turnout among Serbia's 6.7 million eligible voters may yet force a run-off on April 16, Easter weekend.

TRT World's Zoran Kusovac reports from Belgrade.

Student amongst candidates 

Ten opposition candidates are bidding for the office of president, including former ombudsman Sasa Jankovic, ex-foreign minister Vuk Jeremic and ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj.

A student Luka Maksimovic is among the presidential candidates, he uses the fictional name of Ljubisa Preletacevic — nicknamed "Beli" (White).

Student and presidential candidate Luka Maksimovic, also known as "Beli", casts his vote at a polling station during elections, in Mladenovac, Serbia, April 2, 2017. (Reuters)

He campaigns in a Borat-style white suit, sports a samurai-style ponytail and hipster beard, touts a manifesto studded with lunatic pledges and uses a made-up name that mocks politics as the circus of greed.

"I voted for Beli," said 30-year-old Dejan Markovic, an unemployed metal worker.

The so-called opposition candidates have betrayed us in the past and Vucic is lying to us all now, so Beli is the only way to mock all this hypocrisy.

Some analysts said he could even come second in the race behind Vucic.

TRTWorld and agencies