Polls close in Montenegro presidential election

Erika Holt
April 16, 2018

Montenegro's former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic on Sunday claimed victory in the presidential election, according to an NGO monitoring the polls.

If confirmed, the result is an approbation for his move past year to defy Moscow and take Montenegro into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The Monitoring Center (CeMI) says that Djukanovic has secured a victory winning 53.8% of the vote, Bojanic has garnered 33.6%, Vuksanovic has 8.1% and Milacic has 2.9%.

Milo Djukanovic, the presidential candidate of the ruling DPS party (Democratic Party of Socialists), speaks during the meeting with his supporters in the DPS' headquarters in Podgorica, Montenegro, April 15, 2018.

"Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro. there will be no second round", DPS leader Milos Nikolic told journalists at party headquarters.

The presidential position is largely ceremonial, but Đukanović has been at the fore of Podgorica's shift towards the European Union in his previous stints as prime minister and president of the country.

Mladen Bojanic was Djukanovic's main rival, having been put forward by the leading opposition party, the Democratic Front, which prefers closer ties to Russian Federation and accuses Djukanovic of both nepotism and corruption. It's considered a evaluation for Djukanovic, that favors integration within ties to ally Moscow.

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If he wins the presidency, now a ceremonial post held by his ally Filip Vujanovic, it is expected to become the real seat of power in the country of 620,000 people.

Djukanovic's Democratic Socialist Party won the last general election in 2016, but he left the office to his deputy Dusko Markovic.

Djukanovic is the best-known candidate in the race, with his campaign slogan declaring him a "leader, statesman and president of all citizens".

"I will win today", Djukanovic predicted after voting.

The opposition accuses Djukanovic of being linked to the mafia, which he denies. Djukanovic challenger will be Mladen Bojanic, backed by resistance groups, for example types that are pro-Russian.

In the run-up to the vote, local newspapers have alleged electoral fraud, saying many dead people figured on voters' lists.

With Montenegro's average salary at around 500 euros ($615) and unemployment at over 20 percent, the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

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