In Montenegro, citizens have elected a new president. Pro-Western incumbent Milo Djukanovic ran for the second consecutive term. After the defeat of his DPS party in the parliamentary elections more than two years ago, he is fighting for his political survival. Another six men and women ran for the highest office in the state, including four politicians attributed to the pro-Serb camp.
The race is expected to be decided on April 2nd in a runoff between the two first place finishers on Sunday. According to the election research institute Cemi, 35.5 percent of the approximately 540,000 citizens entitled to vote cast their votes by 1 p.m. That was 2.7 percentage points more than at the same time in the last presidential election five years ago. Meaningful opinion polls were not available. The exit is considered open. Polling stations were scheduled to close at 8 p.m. The first results were expected on Monday night.
exit still open
The election is taking place in a highly polarized political climate. Djukanovic, who led Montenegro to independence in 2006 and into NATO in 2017, determined the fate of his country for more than three decades. His autocracy, often overshadowed by corruption and proximity to organized crime, came to an end when a heterogeneous coalition of more or less pro-Serbian forces sent the DPS presidential party into the opposition in the August 2020 parliamentary elections.
However, the governments that followed proved unstable. Djukanovic only dissolved parliament last Thursday because the pro-Serbian parties could not agree on a new prime minister. Parliament had withdrawn its confidence in the previous incumbent, Dritan Abazovic, last August. Djukanovic called early parliamentary elections on June 11.
President has more protocol powers
Although the President only has powers of protocol, the election is considered fateful. As demonstrated by Djukanovic's dissolution of parliament, the head of state can, to a certain extent, oversee the functioning of democratic institutions.
Supporters of Montenegro's independence and western connection therefore see Djukanovic as a last bulwark against the creeping Serbianization of the country by the election winners of August 2020. Irrespective of their chaotic governance, these forces have brought most universities, schools and cultural institutions under their control, critics say.
Pro-Serbian camp ununited
Djukanovic, who is expected to move into the run-off election, could ultimately benefit from the fact that the pro-Serbian camp was not united. The incumbent's chances are good if Andrija Mandic, head of the openly pro-Serbian and pro-Russian Democratic Front, makes it into the runoff.
On the other hand, it would be difficult for the incumbent if he came up against Jakov Milatovic from the new party "Europe Now!" in the second round. would meet The 37-year-old economist with close ties to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is controlled from Belgrade, presents himself as modern, moderate and reform-oriented.