Progressives and their leader Serbia's most popular

BELGRADE -- A new B92/Ipsos Strategic Marketing poll shows that the county's most popular party at the end of 2012 are the ruling Serb Progressives (SNS).

The answers to the question, 'Who do you vote for?' (B92)
The answers to the question, 'Who do you vote for?' (B92)

Not only that, but their leader, Aleksandar Vučić, is the highest-rated politician at the end of a year that saw Serbia's political scene go through a complete change.

The survey included 1,005 respondents, 41.3% of which said they supported the SNS - 11% more than the party could count on at the start of 2012.

The now opposition Democrats (DS) are still in second place, but now have only 16.1% support - seven percent less than a year ago.

The ruling Socialists (SPS) are in third with 14.9%, not counting in their pre-election coalition partners, United Serbia (JS) and the Pensioners (PUPS). With those numbers included, the SPS is more popular than the Democrats.

Vojislav Koštunica's DSS lost only half a percent of the backing they a year ago and now stand at 7.8% - and that concludes the list of the parties that would win seats in parliament if elections were held today.

Those left under the five-percent threshold include the Radicals (SRS, 4.4%), the Liberal-Democrats (LDP, 4.1%), the United Regions of Serbia (URS, 2.5%), and the Dveri Movement (2.1%).

A year ago, 21% of all respondents said they had a positive opinion about the Progressives, but now that figure reaches 34%. The Democrats moved in the opposite direction going from 18% last December to 15% now.

Meanwhile, twice as many Serbians think positively about the Socialists - 21% compared to 11% a year ago.

For the first time in many years, there are as many as three politicians with higher positive than negative ratings.

Thus, 48% said they had a positive opinion about SNS leader and First Deputy PM Aleskandar Vučić, while 24% said they viewed him in a negative light.

Only former president and former DS leader Boris Tadić managed a similar level of support - 51.3%, eight years ago, in 2004.

A year ago, Vučić's approval rating stood at only 17 percent.

Today, he is followed by SPS leader and PM Ivica Dačić with 37% positive (23% last December) and 25% negative rating, and President Tomislav Nikolić with 36% positive (25% a year ago) and 31% negative.

Other politicians all can count on more citizens who distrust than support them - DS leader and Belgrade Mayor Dragan Đilas has a negative rating as high as 45%, while 19% have a positive opinion about him. A year ago, that figure was at 22%.