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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 December, 2003, 18:16 GMT
Serbia waits for a government

By Matthew Price
BBC News, Belgrade

SRS deputy leader Tomislav Nikolic celebrates the election win
The nationalists won parliamentary seats but not overall majority
Serbs will have to wait a while before they know who will govern the country.

There are likely to be weeks of negotiation between parties before a new government can be established.

It is widely felt that a coalition between the parties most accepted by the international community will again lead the country.

The Serbian Radical Party, which won most votes at the recent elections, is widely mistrusted and does not have enough seats to take power.

Serbians worried

On page three of Tuesday's edition of the Blic newspaper in Belgrade, there is a map; it shows who won what across Serbia.

Blue stands for the Serbian Radical Party - the map is almost entirely blue.

It is that image which has worried many, not just around the world but also here in Serbia.

Many on the streets of Belgrade use words like "tragedy". They say it is bad news for the country.

A survey in one of the papers reports that students at Belgrade University are disgusted; most now want to leave the country.

But as the immediate hiatus surrounding the good showing of the Radical Party dies down, some are providing a more sober assessment.

There are analysts daring to speak the unspeakable.

The possible scenarios

Perhaps, they argue, mostly in private, the Radicals should be part of the next Serbian Government.

SRP flag
The Serbian Radical Party's blue flag dominates Serbia's map
For a start, in a vote seen as free and fair by international monitors, they have become by far the country's most popular party.

Some suggest tentatively that if the party was in power, it would be forced to control its more radical elements and turn itself into a more internationally accepted right-wing party.

But the most favoured scenario is that if the Radicals were in government, they would not be able to deliver on their promises and their support base would be eroded.

Radical Party representatives themselves have said they would not mind being in opposition for now as they expect any future pro-reform coalition to tear itself apart.

In the past parliament, exactly that happened, and many say that is why the Radicals got so many votes.

If it happened again, there is a chance the Radicals could win any future election outright.


SEE ALSO:
Ghosts haunt Serbian poll
27 Dec 03  |  Europe
Serbia vote: Parties and players
24 Dec 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
14 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Serbia bloc folds after key role
19 Nov 03  |  Europe


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