Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is projected to win the country’s presidential election in a landslide, according to an exit poll.
Based on 40 percent of the votes counted from a sample of polling stations, Ipsos said Vucic would win with 58 percent of the votes, with opposition candidate Sasa Jankovic trailing behind with 14 percent.
If the projection is confirmed by official results, Vucic, a 47-year-old conservative leader, would clinch the post outright, without having to face a second round run-off.
Al Jazeera’s Sonia Gallego, reporting from the capital, Belgrade, said Vucic’s victory was not a surprise.
“The opposition are fearing that Vucic will use the position to consolidate his power further, but that all depends on whether he wins outright and whether he gives up his political party when takes up that role,” she said.
The post of president has largely been ceremonial in recent times but analysts believe it would be a much more influential position if occupied by Vucic.
Vucic’s opponents say he has taken an authoritarian streak that has led him to take control over the media in Serbia since his party rose to power in 2012 and he became prime minister three years ago.
In the week leading up to the vote, national TV channels devoted 51 percent of their airtime to Vucic, more than all the other candidates put together, according to analysis by the Kliping research agency published in the Danas daily.
That rose to 67 percent when his appearances as prime minister were taken into account, added the analysis.
On Thursday, the last day of the campaign, all but two of the dozen or so national dailies appeared wrapped in full-page ads reading: “On April 2, give a decisive vote to Aleksandar Vucic”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies