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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Q&A: Serbia's presidential election
Tomislav Nikolic
Tomislav Nikolic: Hopes for Greater Serbia
Serbs go to the polls on Sunday in a fourth attempt in less than two years to elect a new president. No outright winner is expected so a runoff is likely at the end of the month. The election is being seen as something of a contest between nationalists and democrats.

Q: Who is standing?

There are 15 candidates overall. Nationalist Tomislav Nikolic, whose Serbian Radical Party (SRS) won the December parliamentary elections, is frontrunner.

Either the Democratic Party's Boris Tadic or the Serbian ruling coalition's Dragan Marsicanin are most likely to enter a second round with Nikolic.

Experts believe a second round is almost a certainty, although a low turnout could in theory result in a Nikolic victory. Many voters are still undecided so the outcome is difficult to predict.

Q: What's the system?

The election law has been changed to remove the 50-per-cent turnout requirement for polling to be valid. This was why three previous polls failed.

A candidate must win at least 50 per cent of votes in the first round to get elected. Otherwise the two candidates with the most votes enter a second round. This is held 14 days after the first and is decided by a simple majority.

The president is elected for five years and cannot hold the post for more than two terms. A political party or public group can put up a candidate if they submit over 10,000 signatures to the electoral commission.

Q: Who can vote?

Altogether there are 6,531,549 registered voters. Serbs will also be able to vote at 241 polling stations in Kosovo, six fewer than last time as Serbs left some parts of Kosovo after riots in March.

Tomislav Nikolic 34%
Boris Tadic 27%
Dragan Marsicanin 17%
Bogoljub Karic 9%
Ivica Dacic 4%

Recent amendments to the Election Law gave the vote to the Serbian Diaspora for the first time. But interest among Serbs abroad has been slight. Only about 10,000 people registered to vote, in around 100 polling stations in 18 countries.

Q: What do the candidates stand for?

Tomislav Nikolic

Serbian Radical Party (SRS) candidate and its deputy leader. Born 1952, he is currently standing in for SRS Chairman Vojislav Seselj, extradited to the Hague tribunal. Third in the 2000 presidential race behind Vojislav Kostunica and Slobodan Milosevic. Sees Serbia as a nationalist state. A fierce opponent of the Hague tribunal, has pledged not to extradite anyone. Wants the Serbia-Montenegro army and Serbian police to return to Kosovo.

Boris Tadic

Democratic Party candidate and party chairman. Born 1958, he was telecommunications minister in the first post-Milosevic Yugoslav government, then Serbia-Montenegro defence minister, which enabled him to start military reforms. Pledges to continue reforms started by his predecessor, assassinated Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Stands for Djindjic's pro-European values of a free market and democratic rule.

Dragan Marsicanin

Candidate of the Serbian ruling bloc: the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Serbian Renewal Movement-New Serbia and G17 Plus. Deputy chairman of the Democratic Party of Serbia. Born 1950, he was Serbian parliament speaker in 2001 and 2004. Resigned as economy minister in May to run for president. His campaign pledged to establish a state governed by law, to fight corruption and to develop the domestic economy.

Bogoljub Karic

Independent candidate. Fourth place in opinion polls. Born in Pec, he spent three decades developing a major company with business interests in telecommunications, civil engineering, finance, education, media, trade and agriculture. His campaign promoted economic issues and his own managerial skills.

Ivica Dacic

Socialist Party of Serbia candidate. Born 1966, he promotes the values of social justice, domestic production and "dignified cooperation" with the world. Believed to be able to count only on Milosevic's hard-line supporters.

Other candidates include:- Borislav Pelevic, Party of Serbian Unity candidate. Born 1956. His ultra right party concentrates on national issues, such as Kosovo and The Hague. Marijan Risticevic, candidate of the Popular Peasants Party. Born 1958, he focuses on the needs of farmers and the return of nationalised property.

Q: What do the polls say?

Most polls since early May have shown Tomislav Nikolic in the lead with Boris Tadic in second place.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Profile: Boris Tadic
15 Jun 04  |  Europe
Taxi show gives voters a lift
08 Jun 04  |  Europe
Profile: Tomislav Nikolic
15 Apr 04  |  Europe
Serb turnout worst in past year
18 Nov 03  |  Europe
Serb Radical outlines ambitions
30 Dec 03  |  Europe

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