Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Montenegro's Dukanovic battling to stay in power

  • This weekend's parliamentary elections are seen as the most important poll since the picturesque Balkan republic voted to split from Serbia a decade ago. (Photo: SarahTz)

Montenegro’s ruling social democrats (DPS) won parliamentary elections on Sunday (16 October), according to an unofficial count, but failed to gather sufficient support to continue to govern alone.

The opposition also claimed to have obtained enough seats to form the next government.

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  • Montenegro's long-standing prime minister Milo Dukanovic in a meeting with MEPs earlier this year. (Photo: European Parliament)

Political turmoil could cast a shadow on the small Balkan republic’s Nato and EU ambitions.

According to Associated Press, the DPS of prime minister Milo Dukanovic won 41 percent of the ballot, while two opposition coalitions - the Democratic Front and Key - gathered 20 percent and 11 percent respectively.

Small ethnic minority parties and the former ruling coalition partner SDP, which fell out with DPS in January, also made it to the 81-seat parliament.

Partial official results are expected for Monday, while complete results will be published on Tuesday.

The election was marred by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning politically motivated armed attacks after the polls closed on Sunday.

A prosecutor said those arrested came from Serbia and planned to attack state institutions, police and possibly state officials after the vote.

Election observers furthermore said they would file complaints over numerous allegations of fraud.

DPS has been part of the government since 1991. The current prime minister and DPS leader, Milo Dukanovic, has served either as prime minister or as president for most of that time.

The Democratic Front is a coalition of parties whose main goal is to oust Dukanovic from power.

Last October, the alliance staged anti-government protests demanding that an interim government is formed to organise the elections in a fair way.

October’s protests eventually culminated in a violent riot, where Montenegrin police used tear gas and armed vehicles to chase away demonstrators.

DPS and its minor coalition partner, SDP, split in January over the issue of free and fair elections.

Dukanovic told EUobserver in July that Russia was actively working with “strongholds” of anti-EU and anti-Nato sentiment in the Western Balkans in order to compete for influence.

The Democratic Front opposes the government’s pro-Western policies, especially the effort to join Nato, but denies links to Russia.

The Balkan republic of 650,000 signed in May an accession protocol with Nato, and is set to become the 29th member of the military alliance as soon as its current members have ratified the document.

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