Serbia's finance minister or its Harvard-educated foreign minister could head a coalition government that is expected to be formed this week with the European Union's endorsement.
Officials said the pro-Western Democratic Party and the Socialists were close to deciding the allocation of government posts after announcing on Monday they would form an alliance after weeks of talks since a May 11 election.
"The prime minister's seat belongs to the Democrats," Socialist leader Ivica Dacic told reporters.
Political sources say the frontrunner for prime minister was outgoing Finance Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, a 57-year-old Democrat. Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, 32, is also seen as a possible contender.
The Socialists will have the post of deputy prime minister, ministries such as infrastructure and energy, and the parliamentary speaker.
It would bring back to power a party that was led by war crimes convict Slobodan Milosevic, who led Serbia to war in the 1990s, and was ousted in 2000.
Most of the party's leaders say the Socialists now want to be a modern, European centre-left party. But there are still hardliners loyal to Milosevic's legacy and it is unclear how much influence they will have in the new government.
Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, the Socialists' vice-president and official nominee for the post of parliamentary speaker, said she was sorry talks with the nationalists failed.
"We won't change our stance regarding cooperation with the Hague tribunal," she added. When Milosevic died while on trial at the United Nations tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague in 2006, the Socialists claimed he was "murdered".
The Democrats were the largest party in the May 11 election but did not secure a majority in the 250-seat parliament.
The nationalist Radicals and the DSS of outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica came second and third and joined forces, brought together by their opposition to EU membership until the bloc stops backing Kosovo's independence.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the agreement between the Socialist and Democrats was a real chance to establish a pro-European government. "I am very much looking forward to working with that government," he said in Brussels.
Serbia's fledgling markets strengthened on expectations of improved EU membership prospects, with the dinar currency ticking up to trade at around 79.1/euro.
Diplomats hope a pro-EU government in Belgrade will deliver war crime suspects to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, and be more amenable over Kosovo, whose Albanian majority seceded from Serbia in February.
Last Mod: 25 Haziran 2008, 08:34