Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic has claimed victory in Sunday's parliamentary election, with exit polls projecting his conservative party winning around half the votes. Pro-Russia far-right parties have also made gains.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic declared a "historic triumph" in an early parliamentary election on Sunday, with his pro-Europe Progressive Party (SNS) set to win 56 percent of the vote, according to exit polls from CESiD.
Ultra-nationalists, who want Serbia to develop closer ties to Russia, are also expected to win seats.
"Serbia will continue on its European path and we'll try to accelerate it," Vucic told supporters gathered in the SNS headquarters. "There is no compromising with that."
Despite a low turnout early in the day, some 53 percent of the 6.7 million voters cast their ballots in the election.
Vucic called the general election halfway through his term, saying he needed four more years toimplement reforms
and carry forward the Balkan country's bid for a European Union membership.
The comfortable majority for Vucic's conservative party in parliament will allow the 46-year-old Vucic to follow through with reforms despite the gains made by the far-right opposition. Vucic's socialist partners are expected to come in second.
Pro-Russia groups are likely to win 10 to 15 percent of the vote after several years without a seat in the country's legislature.
The gains of the two far-right parties are expected to weaken the main opposition groups even further.
Ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, who heads the Radical Party, said Sunday he could "form a coalition with parties that renounce the European Union and favor integration with Russia."
The 61-year-old politician wasrecently acquitted by a UN court
of war crimes charges related to the 1990s Balkan conflict.
The vote on Sunday was the third in four years, leaving many Serbians frustrated with the political situation in their country.
"We have elections too often," said Jelica Nikolic in Belgrade, speaking with the Agence France-Presse news agency.
In the southwestern city of Novi Pazar, Edib Mahmutovic told AFP that he hopes the latest election would "create new jobs that enable us to stay here and not have to look for a better life elsewhere in Europe."
Vucic has promised to revive the country's economy, but critics say the Serbian leader's call for a fresh election was an attempt to consolidate his authoritarian rule.
shs/cmk (dpa, AFP, Reuters)