Montenegro holds snap parliamentary election

World Sunday 11/June/2023 14:55 PM
By: DW
Montenegro holds snap parliamentary election

Podgorica: Voters in Montenegro were electing new lawmakers on Sunday in an early parliamentary vote.

Approximately 542,000 voters will choose from 15 diverse parties, ranging from pro-Western to pro-Serbian and pro-Russian coalitions.

The outcome could indicate whether the small NATO member in the Balkans would move closer to European Union membership.

Poll results suggest coalition government
It was the first parliamentary vote in more than 30 years that does not feature former President Milo Djukanovic, who lost the presidential election in April.

The current president, Jakov Milatovic's centrist Europe Now movement (PES), was most likely to be the top vote-getter on Sunday according to polls.

A poll conducted by Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) last month put Europe Now Movement in the lead with 29.1% of the vote.

The pro-EU Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the party formerly led by Djukanovic, were predicted to come second and the pro-Serbian and pro-Russian Democratic Front (DF) third.

Promises of the PES party
According to polls, PES was unlikely to secure an absolute majority, and its leading candidate, Milojko Spajic, would probably need partners for a coalition.

He vowed to rejuvenate the economy, which is plagued by mismanagement and is heavily dependent on revenues from the Adriatic seaside tourism.

"We're the only ones talking about infrastructure, about tax reforms," he said.

The party backs accession to the European but also favors closer ties with neighboring Serbia.

Montenegro hopes for EU membership
Montenegro is a candidate to join the EU, but it must first root out corruption, nepotism and organized crime.

Over the years, the country with a population just over 600,000  has been divided between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who see themselves as Serbs.

In 2017, after a botched coup attempt that the-then government blamed on Russian agents and Serbian nationalists, the country joined NATO.

Back then, Moscow dismissed claims of leading a coup as absurd and the Serbian government denied any involvement.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Montenegro, unlike Serbia, joined EU sanctions against Moscow.  The Kremlin counts the country on its list of unfriendly states.