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Montenegrins go to the polls on Sunday for parliamentary elections. The outcome of the ballot will determine the political future of President Milo Djukanovic, who has ruled Montenegro since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1990.
The Montenegrins began to go to the polls on Sunday, August 30, for parliamentary elections in which neither the pro-Western party, long in power, nor a competing pro-Serbian and pro-Russian alliance seem able to win a majority of seats.
The outcome of the ballot will determine the political future of President Milo Djukanovic. The latter chairs the Democratic Socialist Party (PDS) and has ruled Montenegro since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1990.
Resolutely pro-Western, Milo Djukanovic chaired the country’s efforts to become a candidate for the European Union and played a key role in its integration into NATO in 2017.
The PDS faces an alliance of Serbian nationalist parties
According to the Center for Surveillance and Research (Cemi), the turnout stood at 54.1% at 1 p.m., up from 39.9% recorded in the previous elections four years ago.
The election pits the PDS against an alliance made up mainly of Serbian nationalist parties, “For the Future of Montenegro”, which pleads for closer ties between the country and Serbia and Russia.
Led by university professor Zdravko Krivokapic, the alliance has the backing of the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church, which organizes daily protests against a law passed last December authorizing the seizure by the state of religious property whose belonging cannot be proven.
Montenegrins who identify as Serbs make up about a third of the country’s 620,000 inhabitants.
In 2016, an attempt to overthrow the government
In previous elections in 2016, the authorities foiled an attempt by Russian agents and a group of Serbian nationalists to overthrow the government, assassinate Milo Djukanovic and put a stop to the NATO accession process.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement, calling the accusations “absurd”. Leaders of the opposition, human rights and democracy organizations accuse Milo Djukanovic and his party of running the country as their own stronghold with links to organized crime.
The latter reject these accusations and Milo Djukanovic, who will put his term as president on the line in 2023, accuses Russia and Serbia of using the Church and the pro-Serbian opposition to question the country’s independence.