Satirical candidate Luka Maksimovic, running under the alter ego of Ljubisa Preletacevic Beli, is currently providing the best challenge to strong favourite Aleksandar Vucic of the ruling SNS coalition in Serbia’s Presidential race, according to the latest polling.
With Vucic cruising on 53 per cent of voting intentions in yesterday’s Ipsos Strategic Marketing poll for the Blic tabloid paper, and facing a large and divided field of opponents, it is ‘Beli’ who is livening up the campaign, especially among younger voters. This invented character runs under the slogan ‘Hit it Hard’, has produced a spoof campaign video (watch it below) and has survived complaints to the Serbian Electoral Commission about his presence in the race. The other part of his fictitious name, Preletacevic, refers to a Serbian expression for a politician who switches party for personal gain. All this has carried ‘Beli’ to 11 per cent in the polls, ahead of more established figures such as ultra-nationalist Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, former Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, and ex-Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic.
Vucic’s plan to move seamlessly from the Prime Minister’s office to the Presidency, taking over from party colleague Tomislav Nikolic, is well on course according to the polling. Ipsos’ score of 53 per cent is consistent with other recent surveys. For example a Center Demostat poll released on 17 March gave Vucic 57 per cent. Hence a second round of voting after the initial ballot on Sunday 2 April is unlikely to be needed.
That may be a relief to some Serbian citizens who, comedy moments from Beli apart, have had to suffer a campaign beset by allegations of intimidation, drug dealing, media bias and foreign interference. A Vucic election video was banned for offensive content, libel lawsuits have been filed and a would-be candidate was disqualified for submitting fake supporting signatures.
The Presidential term runs for five years and the office is, in theory, largely a ceremonial one. Many commentators consider that Vucic, if elected, is unlikely to interpret his new role too narrowly.
IPSOS STRATEGIC MARKETING, SERBIA
Voting intentions for Presidential election, per cent
Aleksandar Vucic (Progressive Party, SNS) 53.0
Luka Maksimovic (‘Ljubisa Beli Preletacevic’) 11.0
Sasa Jankovic (‘For A Serbia without Fear’) 10.6
Vojislav Seselj (Radical Party, SRS) 8.7
Vuk Jeremic (‘We Need to Do Better’) 6.9
Bosko Obradovic (Dveri Movement) 3.5
Sasa Radulovic (Enough is Enough movement, DJB) 1.7
Nenad Canak (League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, LSV) 1.7
Milan Stamatovic (‘For a Healthier Serbia’) 1.5
Aleksandar Popovic (Democratic Party, DSS) 1.1
Miroslav Parovic (National Freedom Movement, NSP) 0.3
Fieldwork: 16.03-18.03.2017. Published: 20.03.2017. Participants: 1500. Methodology: Face-to-face interviews.
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