Montenegro’s veteran President Milo Djukanovic will face a runoff against a pro–Western former minister of economy. According to a projection based upon 99.7% vote sample, no candidate won a majority of the votes in Sunday’s (19 March) first round election.
Based on results from a statistical sample, the Center for Monitoring and Research polling team (CEMI), Djukanovic was projected to win with 35.3% of the votes.
Jakov Milatovic, an ex-economy minister and a pro-European, Western-educated economist who was also the deputy-head for the centrist Europe Now party, was expected to win 29.2%.
Milatovic described the victory as "a beautiful and better, just... and European Montenegro".
He said: "We have taken a decisive move towards April 2.. and a secured victory."
Andrija Mandic was a pro-Serb, pro-Russian politician, and the head the Democratic Front (DF). He finished behind with 19.3%. He supported Milatovic during the run-off.
"Without the support from the DF in round two, there can be no victory in elections... Milatovic has my full support," Mandic stated to his supporters.
In the meantime, a complaint procedure is in place and the official result will not be released until several days.
Djukanovic served 33 years as prime minister or president. He told supporters that he was happy with the results of the election.
Djukanovic said: "We are satisfied with this level support, it’s a good foundation...that will carry us to victory in the race-off."
Opponents charge Djukanovic, his left-centrist Democratic Party of Socialists, (DPS), with corruption, links to organised criminality, and of running 620,000-strong country as their personal fiefdom. Djukanovic, his party, denies these charges.
Sunday’s vote was held amid a year-long political crisis that included no-confidence votes in two different governments, and a dispute between lawmakers and Djukanovic about the refusal of President Barack Obama to name a new prime minister.
Djukanovic disbanded the parliament on Thursday and called for snap legislative elections to be held on 11 June. His DPS party would have a better chance of winning the run-off, which would increase his chances in the parliamentary election.
Montenegro has split over the years between those who identify themselves as Montenegrins, and those who identify themselves as Serbs. They oppose Montenegro’s independence in 2006 from an ex-union with Serbia, a much larger country.
After a failed coup attempt in 2017 that was blamed by the government on Russian agents and Serbian nationists, the country, which relies primarily on Adriatic tourism revenue, joined NATO in 2017. Moscow dismissed these claims as absurd.
After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Montenegro joined EU sanction against Moscow. Montenegro has been placed on the list of unfriendly countries by Moscow.
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