Presidential election in Montenegro: an election that could mark a turning point in the country's history

Milo Djukanovic's campaign poster, in Podgorica, March 16, 2023. AP - Risto Bozovic

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Voters in Montenegro are being called to ballot this Sunday, March 19 for the first round of the presidential election. An election that could mark a turning point in the history of the small country, in political crisis for months.


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With our correspondent in Podgorica, Jean-Arnault Dérens

On the one hand, there is the veteran politician in the Balkans, Milo Djukanovic, who has alternated for 32 years the functions of Prime Minister and President of the Republic, but who does not start as a favorite to obtain a new mandate as head of state, because he has lost control since his Democratic Party of Socialists was disavowed by voters in the legislative elections of August 2020.

Opposite, there are several candidates from the new majority, which brings together political currents that everything opposes. Milo Djukanovic has his "favourite opponent", in the person of the leader of the Democratic Front, pro-Serb and pro-Russian. The outgoing wants to stand as the only guarantor of Montenegro's European and pro-Western commitment.

However, his arguments no longer hold in public opinion, and it is rather the economist Jakov Milatovic who should qualify for the second round. Indeed, the population is tired of identity quarrels and patriotic speeches; rather, it expects an improvement in its living conditions.

A pedestrian walks past a pre-election poster of candidate Jakov Milatovic in Podgorica, Montenegro, March 15, 2023. REUTERS - STEVO VASILJEVIC

In order to dramatize the stakes a little more, Milo Djukanovic dissolved Parliament two days before the first round, as if to better indicate that he was playing quit or double.

►To listen also Montenegro: an uncertain and tense presidential election

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