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Serbian election is expected to tighten populists' grip on power

  • Serbia Elections-1.jpg

    Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic speaks to media after voted at a polling station in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Serbs are voting in an early parliamentary election that is expected to tighten the grip on power of the ruling populists, who have become popular by promising to fight crime and corruption in the troubled Balkan nation seeking EU entry. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (The Associated Press)

  • Serbia Elections-2.jpg

    Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic, center speaks to media after voted at a polling station in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Serbs are voting in an early parliamentary election that is expected to tighten the grip on power of the ruling populists, who have become popular by promising to fight crime and corruption in the troubled Balkan nation seeking EU entry. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (The Associated Press)

  • Serbia Elections-3.jpg

    Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic leaves a polling station with his daughter Milica after voting for the parliamentary elections in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Serbs are voting in an early parliamentary election that is expected to tighten the grip on power of the ruling populists, who have become popular by promising to fight crime and corruption in the troubled Balkan nation seeking EU entry. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (The Associated Press)

  • Serbia Elections-4.jpg

    A woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary elections at a polling station in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Polls have opened at the parliamentary elections in Serbia on Sunday, with the ruling Serbian Progressive Party seen as a clear favorite to win the majority of votes. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic) (The Associated Press)

  • Serbia Elections-5.jpg

    Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic casts his ballot at a polling station in Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, March 16, 2014. Serbs are voting in an early parliamentary election that is expected to tighten the grip on power of the ruling populists, who have become popular by promising to fight crime and corruption in the troubled Balkan nation seeking EU entry. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (The Associated Press)

Serbs are voting in an early parliamentary election that is expected to benefit the governing Serbian Progressive Party, which has promised to fight crime and corruption in the troubled Balkan nation.

Sunday's vote comes as Serbia is seeking entry into the European Union.

Analysts say the Progressives, leaders of the previous coalition government, could win an absolute majority in the 250-member parliament, given divisions within the opposition. The Socialists, whose leader Ivica Dacic is the premier, were trailing in the polls.

Serbian Progressive Party leader Aleksandar Vucic, a former hardline nationalist ally of the late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, is expected to become the next prime minister.

Vucic has promised painful reforms needed to help Serbia's economy, which has been ravaged by wars and international sanctions.