Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic leads in the polls ahead of Sunday’s presidential elections. According to all polling organizations, Vucic will win in the first round on April 2: “Faktor Plus” and “Ipsos Strategic Marketing” predicted 53 percent of votes in his favor, while “Demostat” projected 56.2 percent.
Vucic’s aim from the beginning was to win in the first round. His Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) nominated him after incumbent president Tomislav Nikolic, who is SNS founder, gave up from rerun following his “deal” with the current premier.
Vucic obviously enjoyed the support of most of the media during the campaign and invested more than other candidates in advertisements. According to “Kliping” agency, he had 60 percent of coverage on TV’s. On Thursday, the last day of the campaign, almost all Serbian newspapers had his ad instead of the frontages (photo).
His additional advantage over other candidates was the fact that he has been campaigning for president from PM’s post. Earlier this month, Vucic met with German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin; in the media this was interpreted as Merkel’s and Putin’s support to Vucic. Sasa Radulovic, former Vucic’s economy minister and now another presidential hopeful, accused Merkel and European Union’s officials for siding with Vucic.
The polls results are not accurate – according to opposition candidates, including the two leading: Vuk Jeremic, former foreign minister and ex-United Nations General Assembly president, and Sasa Jankovic, former ombudsman who enjoys the support of Democratic Party (DS). “Demostat” found that Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli, a satirical candidate, would score second, but not enough to gain the second round.
But this could be interpreted as possible “fake news”. If Preletacevic is second, it would mean that Vucic is the only “serious” politician in Serbia.
At the same time, an extremely ugly campaign could be a sign that Vucic is not so certain in his first round win. The harshest moment in campaign was probably an SNS official’s assault on Natasa Jeremic, spouse of Vuk Jeremic. Milenko Jovanov labeled her as “drug lord”. Vucic later “apologized” claiming, without any evidence, that he was the most attacked candidate. Natasa Jeremic rebuffed his “apology”.
Vuk Jeremic seems to be the most targeted candidate. Nonetheless, Jankovic has been also accused by a tabloid inclined to Vucic for “murder”, while both Jeremic and Jankovic were labeled as “NATO candidates”.
These accusations were especially absurd taking into account that Vucic in recent years got close to all persons who were the most responsible for the NATO bombardment of Serbia in 1999. He took former British prime minister Tony Blair as advisor; in 2016 Vucic participated at the Clinton Foundation conference in New York, speaking at a panel alongside with Bill Clinton. Finally, Gerhard Schroeder, spoke at Vucic’s convention on March 24. The convention coincided with the anniversary of the bombardment which started on March 24 1999. At the time, Schroeder was German chancellor and Germany also took part in the air campaign against Serbia./IBNA