Presidential elections are held in Montenegro

Montenegro is voting today to elect the new President. The process is described by analysts as very critical for the path that the small Balkan country will choose: to become part of the European Union or to improve relations with Serbia and Russia.

Analysts predict that Montenegro’s presidential election will not produce a clear winner.

Although in Montenegro, the President’s role is mainly ceremonial, the vote is seen as a key indicator for the path that the country will choose, while on June 11, early parliamentary elections will be held.

Mr. Djukanovic’s main opponents are Andrija Mandic, head of the pro-Serb and pro-Russian Democratic Front, Jakov Milatovic, a pro-Western politician and vice-president of the Europe Now movement, and former parliament speaker Aleksa Becic.

Observers say Mr. Milatovic may have the best chance of entering the runoff against Mr. Djukanovic.

Mr Djukanovic and his Democratic Socialists party led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in 2006 and challenged Russia to join NATO in 2017.

An alliance dominated by parties seeking closer ties with Serbia and Russia ousted the DPS from power in 2020.

The new governing alliance, however, soon became embroiled in debates, creating a political stalemate and hindering Montenegro’s path to the EU. The last government fell after a no-confidence motion in August, but has remained in office for months due to political deadlock.

Mr Djukanovic – who has served as president and prime minister several times in the past 30 years – has seen his popularity decline after the fall in 2020 of a DPS-dominated coalition. He now hopes to win back the trust of Montenegro’s roughly 540,000 eligible voters and help return his party to power.

Montenegro joined NATO in 2017, following a failed coup attempt a year earlier that Podgorica blamed on Russian agents and Serbian ultranationalists. Moscow rejected such claims, calling them absurd.

Following the launch of Russian aggression in Ukraine last year, Montenegro has joined EU sanctions against Russia. The Kremlin in return placed Montenegro on the list of unfriendly states.

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