Run-off confirmed for Montenegro president vote
Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic, who is the country’s longest-serving leader, will face a run-off election against pro-European challenger Jakov Milatovic, official results have confirmed.
Projections released after Sunday’s vote, which followed months of political deadlock, had already predicted the men would head to the April 2 second round of voting.
Djukanovic got 35.4 percent of ballots and Milatovic took 28.9 percent, according to results released late Monday by the electoral commission and based on all votes counted.
Analysts see Milatovic as favourite for the second round.
“Djukanovic has a strategic problem …. where will he get the votes from and beyond a doubt Milatovic’s chances to get a majority are significantly higher,” analyst Milos Besic told the state-run RTCG television.
Two other candidates for the presidency, notably leader of pro-Russian Democratic Front (DF) Andrija Mandic, who came third with nearly 20 percent of the votes, called their supporters to back Milatovic in the run-off.
The election follows months of deadlock after the government was hit with a no-confidence vote in August but continued to rule, kicking off a wave of protests and calls for snap polls for the parliament.
Montenegro’s president, who is elected for a five-year term, has a largely ceremonial role with most political power resting with the prime minister.
A loss at the polls for Djukanovic and his DPS party would signal the beginning of a new political era as the country pursues European Union membership — long-sought goal held up by slow progress on reforms to tackle endemic corruption.
Djukanovic, 61, said late Sunday that he was convinced he would secure a third term as the head of state.
“I articulate in the best way what citizens, a European Montenegro, needs,” said the veteran leader who helped oversee Montenegro’s independence in 2006.
Meanwhile, the 37-year-old Milatovic called his success the victory of a “more equal and more just Montenegro” and vowed to defeat his rival in two weeks.
Under the leadership of Djukanovic and his party the Montenegro joined NATO, kick-started EU membership talks and moved away from Russia’s influence.
However, his party’s rule has been plagued by allegations of widespread corruption and links to organised crime, which Djukanovic strongly denies.