- Title: SERBIA: Serbia's second largest city, Novi Sad, an example of Radical leadership
- Date: 30th January 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF POSTER OF TADIC IN FRONT OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY OFFICE (2 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 14th February 2008 12:00
- Location: Serbia
- Country: Serbia
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABDHWZ2QPPUD2FKUJ5BKPDHLFI
- Story Text: The city of Novi Sad, run by Tomislav Nikolic's Serbian Radical Party, is an example of Radical rule, but the first round of Presidential elections in the city proved a tight race between the Radicals and pro-Western democrat leader Boris Tadic.
Serbia is about to enter the second round of presidential elections where voters will decide between ultranationalist Radical Party Leader Tomislav Nikolic and Pro-western incumbent Boris Tadic.
Nikolic took 40 percent of the vote in the first round ahead of 35.5 percent for pro-Western President Boris Tadic. The two men will compete in a run-off on February 3, foreshadowing a repeat of the 2004 race which Tadic won with 53.2 percent.
Novi Sad is Serbia's second-largest city. It is a multi-ethnic city with a population of half a million in the heart of Vojvodina, Serbia's northern province, and has been run by Nikolic's Radical Party for the past three years. Nikolic took power after wining local elections in 2004 by one thousand votes over Tadic's Democrats.
The Radicals have for the past three years used Novi Sad as an example of their leadership capabilities.
"The city of Novi Sad is one of two large cities in Serbia run by the Radical Party. We are proud of our achievements so far. We are not talking, we are working. Changes are visible everywhere," President of Novi Sad city council, Zoran Vucevic said.
Novi Sad looks like a big construction yard. The city centre has been totally renovated and repainted, with main projects such as a new public heating system and two hundred new buses for public transport.
"Before, Democrats had run this city for eight years, and none of this was done. Now, they are saying they can do it as well. I am not so sure, they had their opportunity," Vucevic added.
Tadic's Democrats in Novi Sad and the opposition in the city parliament accuse the Radicals of irrational investments and overspending of the city's budget.
"The main problem that we are facing here is that the economy is suffering because of bad political decisions. Actually, they are running the system without any economical logic," Democratic Party Parliament member in Novi Sad city council Mihajlo Brkic said.
"I am afraid that if they implement the same system on a higher level in Serbia, we will have the same situation as in Novi Sad. They learned the danger of political isolation, but they haven't learned economical risks and seriousness of decisions," he added.
Tadic won the city in the first round of the Presidential election by a tight margin. Citizens of Novi Sad see the second round as a chance to give their verdict on the city's government.
"I think we have lots of corruption, you can't get a document in a normal and usual way," one resident Andrija Bolog said.
"Tomislav Nikolic sounds tolerant this time, probably advised by his propaganda advisers, but this is not their real face as we saw in the past," added Georgina Nadj.
Ivan Beljanski said he liked the recent investment in the city.
"No one has invested like this in the past 40 years. Somehow I like it. I live in the suburbs and I can see changes every time I visit the city centre," Ivan Beljanski said.
Initiated by the Radical Party in Novi Sad, the local government has conferred an honorary citizenship on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Radicals' proposal was backed by assembly members from the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia, led by Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, and the Serbian Socialist Party, once headed by the late Yugoslav autocrat Slobodan Milosevic.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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