World Bulletin / News Desk
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic appeared certain of clinching the presidency on Sunday, with a poll showing him winning despite accusations by rivals that he would steer the country toward authoritarian rule.
"We can say that he is elected president," Marko Uljarevic of IPSOS told AFP.
Former ombudsman Sasa Jankovic was projected to come in second with about 16 percent.
Vucic, a 47-year-old ultranationalist turned pro-European, will have a five-year term as president, a largely ceremonial post in Serbia, but one that analysts say he will use to consolidate his grip on power, including with his eventual pick for prime minister.
Opposition parties had warned during the campaign against putting too much power in one man's hands, but Vucic dismissed the accusations Sunday.
"They can say whatever they want. I will respect Serbia's constitution. That is my obligation and that is what I will do," he told reporters after casting his ballot.
Many of Vucic's challengers garnered fewer votes than surveys had predicted: Vuk Jeremic, a former foreign minister, won 5.8 percent, while the ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj won 4.4 percent.
But Luka Maksimovic, a 25-year-old satirist who ran as the fictional Ljubisa Preletacevic -- nicknamed "Beli" (White) -- took 9.3 percent of the vote.
Dressed in a Borat-type white suit with a samurai-style ponytail and hipster beard, he had promised voters "to steal for myself but give something to the people too."
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