Exit polls on Sunday suggest Prime Minister Milo Đukanović will continue to lead Montenegro.
The country is expected to become NATO’s 29th member state; EU accession negotiations that began on June 29 will also remain on track.
According to two exit polls, the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) is tipped to secure 41% of the vote and 36 of the 81 seats up for grabs. DPS outperformed polls that projected a victory with less than 40%.
DPS will need ethnic minority support to form a government. Under the electoral law, ethnic minorities have guaranteed seats in parliament. That includes Albanians, Bosniaks [Muslim] and Croats.
The opposition alliance “Democratic Front” list appears to be a distant second with 22-to-27% of the vote, depending on the exit polls. That corresponds to a minimum of 20 seats in parliament. Another major opposition group is close to 11%.
It appears that 66,2% of eligible voters went to the polls. According to the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, OSCE/ODIHR, the elections were “democratically correct.”
Approximately 20 Serbian paramilitaries were arrested, according to the government. The police speculate they may have been planning to kidnap the Prime Minister; Democratic Front leader Andrija Mandic speaks of “propaganda.”
Milo Đukanović began his career as a Serbian nationalist and an ally of Slobodan Milošević, ruling Montenegro since 1991. In 1998 he changed political direction to favour Euro-Atlantic integration, leading Montenegro towards independence in 2006.
The main theme of the campaign was NATO membership. The Democratic Front opposition is a heterogeneous alliance united in its opposition to Milo Đukanović and NATO.
It comprises of various political forces, not least pro-Russian and Serbian nationalist forces that vehemently oppose NATO membership.
On the second day of the Summit in Warsaw in July 2016, NATO adopted the Political Declaration welcoming Montenegro as a new member of the Alliance. What remains to be done is the ratification of the Protocol on Accession.
That could take place via a referendum or the next parliament. Djukanovic has made clear he prefers the latter.
Djukanovic faced large protest rallies against NATO membership and framed the vote as a choice between the West and Russia; he accuses Moscow of funding opposition parties.