Early results show Djukanovic sweeping Montenegro vote

Early results show Djukanovic sweeping Montenegro vote

Voting has begun in Montenegro with pro-western former prime minister Milo Djukanovic expected to be elected president of the small Balkan country.

In 2016, he defied Russian Federation by spearheading Montenegro's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

With 80 per cent of ballots counted, the Center for Monitoring and Research said on Sunday that Djukanovic had won about 53 per cent of the vote, ahead of his main opponent Mladen Bojanic with 34 per cent.

Milo Djukanovic, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, and presidential candidate, is interviewed outside a polling station in Podgorica on April 15.

Mr Djukanovic is the most high-profile of the seven candidates, with posters plastered all over the capital Podgorica billing him as "leader, statesman and president of all citizens". President Filip Vujanovic of that party was not running due to term limits.

Djukanovic, the country's dominant politician, and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for almost 30 years. "I will continue the struggle to liberate Montenegro from Djukanovic's dictatorship".

But for the 620,000 people in Montenegro, their votes may have been swayed by what work prospects are offered by the candidates rather than ties to the West or Russian Federation.

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The opposition accuses Djukanovic of being linked to the mafia, which he denies. "Looking forward to years of cooperation in ensuring this future for our two peoples", Thaci wrote.

Earlier in the campaign he accused Djukanovic of being "the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".

"I agree with Djukanovic that the state is stronger than the mafia".

Surveys indicate Djukanovic can win over 1 / 2 of those votes and also prevent a runoff.

Low salaries and unemployment at above 20% means the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

Djukanovic has pared back his anti-Russian rhetoric saying he wanted "normal relations with Russia if it is prepared to do the same", but he has also said he wants the country to "remain on its road of development", which would be better achieved through ties with Brussels. "This is a victory for the Montenegro but also for the entire region that aspires North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and European Union integration".

During the campaign he said: "As president, I will do everything in my power... to give the police the authority that would allow them to protect citizens from those who put their lives in danger".

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