Montenegro poll invalid after just 46% turn out to vote

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The Independent Online

Less than half of Montenegro's voters turned out to vote in presidential elections yesterday, invalidating the poll – something that has not happened since the end of Communist rule in 1990.

Less than half of Montenegro's voters turned out to vote in presidential elections yesterday, invalidating the poll – something that has not happened since the end of Communist rule in 1990.

Hundreds of thousands of voters stayed away from the polling booths, angry at the state of the economy and recent claims of an unnamed Moldovan woman that she was enslaved for years and forced to have sex with powerful Montenegrin business and political leaders.

The Centre for Monitoring Elections (CEMI) said only 45.7 per cent of the electorate cast votes, falling short of the 50 per cent constitutional requirement.

Despite winning the support of 83.9 per cent of those who voted, the main ruling party candidate and front-runner, caretaker President Filip Vujanovic, will now prepare for a re-run. About 120 foreign monitors, mostly from western Europe, as well as some 2,000 observers from local non-governmental organizations, observed the election. Montenegrin law requires a repeat vote with the same candidates. It will be held next month. If that fails, the whole election process must be started from scratch.

"The elections are going to be successful, and I will be the absolute winner," he had exuded earlier. He soared ahead of his 10 rivals – the closest to him had just over 6 per cent last night. Milo Djukanovic, who handed the Presidential post to Mr Vujanovic last month to assume the more powerful post of Prime Minister after his coalition won elections in October, had said: "I expect us to elect a president tonight - or maybe in a repeat vote."

Their party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, won easily in October on a ticket of increased independence from Serbia, its senior partner in the Yugoslav federation, which has also failed to elect a President, but the prostitution scandal has rocked their administration to its core. The deputy state attorney, Zoran Piperovic, who has been directly implicated, was ousted from office despite his protestations of innocence.

The main opposition party, Socialist People's Party (SNP), which suffered a heavy defeat in October, did not field a candidate and instead called a boycott.

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