Montenegro votes in presidential election

Monday, 16 Apr, 2018

"This (result) is a serious indication of how final results might look, though results might deviate slightly", said Milos Besic, an lecturer of political sciences at the Belgrade University who monitors Montenegro's vote.

Voters in Montenegro were casting ballots yesterday in a presidential election, with former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic expected to win after his party defied Russian Federation and took the small Balkan nation into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization previous year.

There are seven presidential candidates, including former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic of the Democratic Party of Socialists, and Mladen Bojanic, who is backed by a coalition of parties including the Democratic Front.

However, the DPS and Djukanovic led Montenegro into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a year ago and have pledged to complete talks for European Union membership. He announced his comeback last month citing "responsibility for Montenegro's future".

The issue of organised crime has cast a shadow on the campaign, with some 20 people killed by assassination or vehicle bombs over the last two years.

Opinion polls predict a first-round victory but if the veteran politician is forced into a run-off he will have to face voters again on 29 April.

During the campaign, opposition candidates accused Djukanovic of fostering cronyism, nepotism, corruption and ties with organised crime, which he denies.

Bojanic quickly conceded saying, "Montenegro has chosen what it has chosen".

Earlier in the campaign he accused Djukanovic of being "the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro". "But the problem is that I do not know which side he is on", he added.

However, Mr Djukanovic has claimed that the opposition wants to turn the country into a "Russian province" and threaten Montenegro's multicultural way of life.

Low salaries and unemployment at above 20% means the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

The EU in its 2016 progress report told the country it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, especially human trafficking and money laundering.

The state election commission said turnout at 7.30 p.m (1730 GMT), half an hour before the polling stations closed, stood at 61.6 percent.