November 7, 1996 in Nation/World

Milosevic Wins, But Fails To Gain Absolute Majority

Associated Press

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s alliance won Yugoslavia’s parliamentary elections, but failed to gain the majority that would give him the Yugoslav presidency, final results showed Wednesday.

The alliance of Milosevic’s ruling Socialists and his wife’s neo-Communists won 64 of the 138 seats in the legislature. A sister party that dominates Montenegro - Serbia’s only remaining partner in Yugoslavia - won 20 seats.

The total is short of the 91 seats needed for a two-thirds majority. Milosevic and his Communist wife, Mirjana Markovic, will likely start a post-election hunt among minor parties to cajole at least seven deputies into switching sides and thus secure full control in parliament.

Milosevic did not run himself, but he needed to retain his majority in the legislature to ensure he can hold on to power next year, when his second term as Serbian president expires.

The constitution bars him from a third term, but he can be elected Yugoslav president by the federal assembly. Once there, he can get the legislature to change the constitution to expand the powers of that now-symbolic post.

Milosevic’s main challenger, the Zajedno coalition, won 22 seats, Montenegro’s opposition party won eight, the ultranationalist Serb Radical Party won 16 and five minor groups split the remaining eight seats.

Milosevic spokesman Ivica Dacic called it a “great and a convincing victory.”

The Zajedno coalition made a good showing at the municipal level and is hoping for victory in municipal runoff elections, scheduled for Nov. 17. It could dent Milosevic’s grip on power in many big towns in Serbia, including the capital Belgrade, which stands a good chance to have its first non-Communist mayor since 1945.

The nationalists’ strong showing reflected the nationalism Milosevic whipped up in the 1980s to preserve power, triggering the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. He made peace last year and ditched nationalism, returning to his Communist roots.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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