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Serbia's economy minister resigns as snap vote looms


Serbia's Economy Minister Sasa Radulovic resigned on Saturday, his adviser said, as Serbia's ruling Progressive Party (SNS) was set to announce whether it would call for early elections in March.

"I can confirm that Radulovic resigned," Dusan Pavlovic told AFP, giving no further details.

Radulovic had earlier warned he would quit over a lack of support within the government to amend key laws on labour, privatisation and bankruptcy, and he feared early elections would only further delay necessary economic reforms.

Radulovic was appointed minister in September as a non-party expert.

His resignation came as SNS leaders were meeting to decide whether to force snap parliamentary polls.

According to analysts, the SNS wants early polls to capitalise on strong public support following the start of Serbia's accession talks with the European Union and the arrests of several former ministers and tycoons as part of the fight against corruption and organised crime.

But the economy has been struggling since the May 2012 elections and little progress has been made on promised reforms.

Unemployment in the country of 7.1 million stands at 20.1 percent, with the public deficit on the rise, debt at 60 percent of GDP and average monthly salaries at a mere 400 euros ($540).

Polls in recent months have suggested that the SNS enjoys the support of more than 40 percent of voters. Support for the country's second-largest party, the opposition Democratic Party (DS), stands at around 11 percent, the surveys showed.