© Reuters. Voters queue at a polling station throughout the presidential elections in Podgorica, Montenegro, March 19, 2023. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic
PODGORICA (Reuters) – Montenegrins started voting on Sunday in a presidential election that may affect the result of a parliamentary vote in June in addition to the small Adriatic nation’s stance towards the West and its ties with neighbouring Serbia.
Polling stations in Montenegro, which is a NATO member and a candidate to affix the European Union, opened at 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) and can shut at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT). First unofficial outcomes by pollsters, primarily based on a pattern of the voters, are anticipated about two hours later.
Milo Djukanovic, the incumbent pro-Western president, has held prime political posts within the nation for 33 years and is in search of one other five-year time period.
His major opponents are Andrija Mandic, the pinnacle of the Democratic Entrance which favours nearer ties with Serbia and Russia, and Jakov Milatovic, a pro-Western economist and the deputy head of the Europe Now motion.
If no candidate secures greater than 50% of votes, a second spherical of voting between the highest two is scheduled for April 2.
Opponents accuse Djukanovic and his left-centrist Democratic Get together of Socialists (DPS) of corruption, hyperlinks to organized crime, and of operating the nation of some 620,000 individuals as their private fiefdom – prices Djukanovic and his get together deny.
Sunday’s vote comes amid a year-long political disaster marked by no-confidence votes in two separate governments and a row between lawmakers and Djukanovic over the president’s refusal to call a brand new prime minister.
On Thursday Djukanovic dissolved the parliament and scheduled snap elections for June 11. A victory within the presidential election would bolster the possibilities of the winner’s get together within the parliamentary vote.
“I’m anticipating individuals will open their eyes, …. that we are going to begin to go ahead for a greater life,” stated Mirjana Aleksic, 53, from Podgorica after casting her poll at a polling station in a neighborhood faculty.
Over time, Montenegro has been divided between those that determine as Montenegrins and people who see themselves as Serbs and opposed the nation’s 2006 independence from a former union with neighbouring and far bigger Serbia.
The nation, which primarily depends on revenues from its Adriatic tourism, joined NATO in 2017, following a botched coup try a yr earlier that the federal government blamed on Russian brokers and Serbian nationalists. Moscow dismissed such claims as absurd.
Following the invasion of Ukraine final yr, Montenegro joined EU sanctions towards Russia. The Kremlin has positioned Montenegro on its listing of unfriendly states.