21 May 2012

Serbian election result

11:28 am on 21 May 2012

Opposition nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic has unexpectedly won the presidential election in Serbia.

Incumbent Boris Tadic conceded victory after early predictions showed him trailing with 47% of the vote, with Mr Nikolic predicted to win 49%.

Turnout was below 45%.

The BBC reports the contest had been seen as a vote on EU membership and Mr Nikolic has promised that "Serbia will not stray from its European path".

Mr Nikolic previously served as a deputy prime minister under former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was put on trial for genocide at The Hague.

He was in government when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 and once said he would rather see Serbia ally itself with Russia than join the EU, but has softened his rhetoric in recent years.

His Progressive Party has vowed to invest in agriculture and industry and tax the rich to fund a rise in pensions.

Serbia has unemployment of 24% and foreign debt of 24 billion euros ($US31.5 billion).