Serbian election is expected to tighten populists' grip on power

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.