Yugoslavian Socialists to Face Radicals in Runoff

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists headed Monday for a victory in Serbian general elections, followed closely by ultranationalist Radicals, who seem to have grown into a major political force.


The Socialists' candidate Zoran Lilic was leading the presidential race, but is likely to face a runoff Oct. 5 as he apparently failed to gain 51 percent of the vote needed for a first-round victory.


His rival will be Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj, according to partial results released by the two parties early Monday. Milosevic's and Seselj's parties were also in first and second places in the race for Serbia's 250-seat parliament.


The opposition Serbian Renewal Movement of Vuk Draskovic conceded it was losing, saying that with 75 percent of the vote counted in the presidential race, Lilic was ahead with about 35 percent, followed by Seselj with 27 percent and Draskovic with 22 percent.


Ivan Kovacevic, Draskovic's spokesman, blamed election boycotters for the loss, saying that if there had been no boycott, Draskovic would have been at least second.


The official electoral commission confirmed the Socialists and Lilic were leading, followed by the Radicals and Seselj. It said the turnout was 62 percent.


Milosevic, who controls the state media, was expected from the beginning to see his party triumph in Sunday's vote. But such a rise of the Radicals was unexpected and could lead to more trouble and ethnic tensions in the region.


"This is another convincing Socialist Party victory," Socialist spokesman Ivica Dacic said. "We have again proved that we are the strongest party in Serbia."


Dacic, however, admitted that Lilic will have to face Seselj in the runoff. "We expect Lilic's win," he added.


In a preliminary report, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitoring the vote, said, "On the whole, the elections went well in peaceful and orderly manner." But it added that the process leading up to the elections was "flawed," including the coverage of the state-run media in favor of the ruling party.


Constitutionally barred from running for a third term as president of the Serb republic, Milosevic this summer engineered his appointment as president of Yugoslavia and has maintained sweeping control of Serbia and of the elections.


In protest, an alliance of pro-democracy parties urged Serbs to boycott, hoping that at least 51 percent of the 7 million registered voters would help make the vote invalid by not participating.