Today was the first round of Seribia’s presidential election. According to election monitors, as reported by Reuters, nationalist (fascist,1 really) candidate Tomislav Nikolic has 39.4% of the vote and incumbent Boris Tadic has 35.4%.
The Reuters headline proclaims, “Nationalist wins first round in Serb vote.” Given that it was widely expected that there would be a runoff and that there are two slots in said runoff, actually both of them have “won” the first round.
The same two candidates “won” the first round of the 2004 election, and in the same order of finish, though both had lower vote shares then: Nikolic, 30.1% and Tadic, 27.3%. The third candidate in 2004, Bogoljub Karic, had 19.3%. In the runoff, Tadic won fairly easily, 54.4 – 45.6.
Serbia is a premier-presidential system with a relatively weak presidency. In the parliamentary elections of 2007, Nikolic’s Serbian Radical Party also won a plurality of votes (28.6%) and seats (81/250). However, the much more important result of the parliamentary elections was that pro-Western parties allied to Tadic won a large majority, and together form the current government.