Serbia's Likely New Prime Minister Plans 'Painful' Budget Deficit Steps

Serbia's likely new prime minister said he plans "several painful" steps to narrow the nation's budget deficit after his party won parliamentary elections on Sunday, an outcome he expects will accelerate Serbia's accession to the European Union, The Wall Street Journal reported. Aleksandar Vučić's center-right Serbian Progressive Party won 49% of votes at the general election Sunday and, under the country's rules, will get 155 seats in the 250-seat legislature. Since 2012, Mr. Vučić has been the first deputy prime minister in a coalition government. With an absolute majority, Mr. Vučić will have a freer hand to restructure state-supported companies and take steps to decrease the country's 20% jobless rate. Serbia is also struggling with a budget deficit set to reach some 7% of gross domestic product this year, according to Société Générale. To address fiscal troubles, Mr. Vučić said, in an interview, that he is ready to continue "tough" talks with the International Monetary Fund over a precautionary agreement and conclude the talks by the end of the summer. Read more. (Subscription required.)