Montenegro votes in parliamentary elections

Former long-serving president Milo Djukanovic, beaten in a run-off vote in April, casts his ballot in Podgorica – Copyright AFP –


Montenegro headed to the polls on Sunday to vote in parliamentary elections aiming to end months of political gridlock after the government collapsed last August.

The elections come just months after Montenegro’s political establishment was rocked when long-time leader Milo Djukanovic suffered a crushing defeat in a presidential run-off in April to upstart Jakov Milatovic, ending decades of rule by the incumbent.   

Djukanovic had been a political mainstay in Montenegro for decades — including multiple stints as both president and prime minister. 

Sunday’s election will likely provide a glimpse into where the Balkan nation is headed as it plunges into a new political era while the country continues to cling to the long-sought goal of joining the European Union.

At the front of the pack is President Milatovic’s Europe Now party, a political newcomer that formed in 2022 but has taken Montenegro by storm with its pro-European platform and pledge to raise wages and launch reforms. 

Europe Now will be hoping to capture the eagerness of young voters looking for an injection of fresh faces into the country’s leadership long dominated by Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). 

The party will compete with various rivals, including pro-Serb and pro-Russian groups along with Djukanovic’s ailing DPS. 

In the run-up to the polls, controversy has been stirred after interim Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and his allies accused Europe Now’s leader Milojko Spajic of fostering links with fugitive cryptocurrency entrepreneur Do Kwon.

Kwon has been in custody in Montenegro since late March after being arrested at the capital’s airport carrying alleged fake travel documents.

Seoul and Washington are seeking his extradition for his suspected role in fraud linked to his company’s dramatic collapse last year.

Spajic has brushed away the allegations and doubled down on his campaign promises of bolstering the minimum wage, overseeing pension reforms and cut the working day to seven hours from eight currently. 

Candidates will likely be faced with a wave of voter fatigue in Montenegro, where multiple elections and cycles of political deadlock in recent years have left large swaths of the population exasperated with the government’s inability to function. 

Turnout appeared to be anaemic, according to the Centre for Democratic Transition polling group, with an estimated 35 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot.   

“I only hear exaggerations in election promises. This is not based in reality,” Milica, a 43-year-old economist living in the capital Podgorica, told AFP. 

“I will not vote.”

Others hoped a new government would bring stability and kickstart long-stalled reforms and talks with the EU. 

“The time has come for politicians to think about higher salaries, pensions, young people, and students,” said Milivoje Vujovic, 66-year-old pensioner in Podgorica. 

Montenegro votes in parliamentary elections
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