Montenegro holds second round of presidential elections By Reuters
© Reuters. A child plays with a ball outside the day before the second round of the presidential election in Podgorica, Montenegro, on April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica 2/5
PODGORICA (Reuters) – Montenegrins were scheduled to vote in the second round of Sunday’s presidential election, in which longtime incumbent Milo Djukanovic is pitted against a Western-educated economist who has promised to lead the country out of a crisis marked by no-confidence votes in two elections. government.
Polling stations will open at 07:00 (05:00 GMT) and close at 20:00 (18:00 GMT). The first unofficial results of public opinion polls, based on a sample of the electorate, are expected in about two hours.
Djukanovic, 61, has dominated Montenegro as either president or prime minister for 33 years since the collapse of the now-defunct federal Yugoslavia.
Opponents have long accused the former communist and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of corruption, ties to organized crime, and running the small Adriatic republic that relies heavily on tourism revenue along its picturesque coast as their fiefdom, charges they deny.
His opponent is Jakov Milatovic, 37, a former economics minister and deputy head of Europe Now, who has promised to curb bribery, improve living standards and strengthen ties with both the European Union and the former Yugoslav Republic of Serbia.
Djukanovic received 35.37% of the vote in the first round of elections on March 19, while Milatovic received 28.92%, necessitating a runoff as neither won a 50% majority and analysts predicted a tight runoff race. off.
Sunday’s vote follows a year of political turmoil when two governments fell in a no-confidence vote and a dispute between lawmakers and Djukanovic over his refusal to appoint a new prime minister.
On 16 March, Đukanović dissolved parliament and called early elections for 11 June. Although the presidency in Montenegro is largely ceremonial, winning the election will improve the chances of the winning party in June.
Montenegro has a legacy of bitter divisions between those who consider themselves Montenegrins and those who consider themselves Serbs and oppose the country’s independence.
The country joined NATO after an attempted coup in 2016, in which the Djukanovic government blamed Russian agents and Serbian nationalists. Moscow dismissed such claims as absurd.
After invading Ukraine last year, Montenegro joined EU sanctions against Russia. The Kremlin has put Montenegro on the list of unfriendly states.