Montenegro set for tight election between pro-western party and pro-Russian alliance

Neither the incumbents nor the nationalists are likely to be able to form a government alone

Aleksandar Vasovic
Sunday 30 August 2020 12:42
Comments
The opposition and democracy rights groups accuse the DPS of being linked to organised crime
The opposition and democracy rights groups accuse the DPS of being linked to organised crime

Montenegrins go to the polls on Sunday in a parliamentary election that looks too close to call, with neither the long-ruling pro-Western party nor a rival pro-Russian alliance tipped to win a majority of seats.

At stake is the political future of president Milo Djukanovic. He leads the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and has governed Montenegro since the start of the break-up of federal Yugoslavia in 1990 and through the dissolution of its union with Serbia in 2006.

Staunchly pro-western, Mr Djukanovic has overseen Montenegro's ongoing efforts to qualify for membership of the European Union and was instrumental in securing its accession to NATO in 2017.

The vote pits the DPS against an alliance of mainly Serb nationalist parties seeking closer ties to Serbia and Russia.

Led by university professor Zdravko Krivokapic, it is backed by the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church, which holds daily protests against a law adopted last December that allows the state to seize religious assets whose historical ownership cannot be proven.

Montenegrins who identify as Serbs account for about a third of the 620,000 population. Most Montenegrins and Serbs share language and the Orthodox faith, and many Serbian citizens have roots and families in Montenegro.

The DPS has 42 deputies in the current 81-seat parliament, but polls suggest neither it nor the nationalists are on course to secure an absolute majority, making them reliant on coalition partners to form a government.

Polling stations will open at 7am (0500GMT) and close at 8pm. First partial results are due around 10pm.

Opposition leaders and democracy and rights watchdogs have accused Mr Djukanovic and his party of running Montenegro as their own fiefdom with links to organised crime.

They deny this, and Mr Djukanovic – who faces re-election as the country's president in 2023 – and his top associates have in turn accused Serbia and Russia of using the Church and the pro-Serb opposition to undermine the independence of the mountainous coastal republic.

Montenegro has also been combating a coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 4,500 people, caused 89 deaths, and gutted the Adriatic tourism that is a key driver of its economy.

Reuters

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in