And the independent polling centers have counted and incumbent Boris Tadic of the Serbian Democratic Party wins his second term. Tonight people are celebrating and I can hear the president and his people in the Terazija over half a mile a way celebrating. I was, at first, quite surprised by the calm, but then BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and fireworks were going off shaking the earth and the air with their explosions. People are yelling and singing and waving flags in the street, honking their horns and celebrating that, tonight at least, they have won and do not have to worry about running for the border.
(photo courtesy of B92)
Although I told a friend of mine that I was too lazy to get dressed (I was already in my pajamas) to go to the Terazija, in the end I changed my mind, threw on some clothes, and ran down there. I went sans camera for a couple reasons, I didn't want to be jostled by the crowd and drop it, and I've never been a fan of crowds; particularly crowds of frenetic people with whom I do not share a language. So I went simply as a sideline observer and even at that was swept up in the enthusiasm. Even though President Tadic had long since retreated by the time I made it, there was no lack of people milling about and carousing and I wasn't even able to get near the Terazija.
In the few short years Serbians have been voting for their leaders, this election garnered one of the highest voter turn outs ever and one of the closest elections. It seems, that while 30% of the eligible to vote population declined to do so, enough people felt that, while maybe they aren't exactly happy with life under Tadic, they awknowledge that bad is better than worse. That is, after all, how Kostunica won in 2000-it was the only way to get rid of Mladic. Maybe five years from now there will be a new candidate, someone who really is better for Serbia. We can only hope until then.