Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has been left severely weakened after it failed to secure a majority in Montenegro’s national election on Sunday.
Despite winning the single largest number of seats, Djukanovic’s DPS came in five short of a majority. Opposition parties are now likely to attempt to form a coalition and move to seize power from Djukanovic.
The DPS leader has treated the country as his and his cronies’ personal fiefdom since he rose to lead the nation more than 25 years ago, and has been accused of a number of serious criminal offences and collusion with organised crime groups
Before the result of yesterday’s poll was announced, police and local media reported that a group of opposition figures were plotting to kidnap Djukanovic, and that 20 Parliamentarians from Serbia had been arrested over the alleged plan.
Opposition Democratic Front leader Andrija Mandic described the revelation as nothing more than “gross propaganda”.
Issuing a statement after the vote had been officially counted, the independent CEMI election monitoring group said the DPS had won around 41% support, with smaller parties the Democratic Front alliance and the KLJUC coming in at 20% and 11%, respectively. Official results of the poll will be released over the coming days, although CEMI’s data is thought to be broadly accurate.
Addressing supporters late last night, Djukanovic said he would seek to form a coalition with parties that represent minorities, including Albanians, Bosniaks and Croats, and then attempt to ratify Montenegro’s membership of NATO, and move towards taking the country into the EU. The majority of the parties involved in the vote treated the election partly as a de facto referendum over whether the country should move closer to Russia or Europe.
“Tonight we can safely say that Montenegro is heading toward the European integration, and we will soon ratify the accession agreement with NATO,” Djukanovic said.
After years of widespread allegations of serious corruption, Djukanovic was named the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)’s 2015 Man of the Year in Organised Crime. Over more than quarter-of-a-century in power, it has been alleged that Djukanovic has profited from crooked sell-offs of state assets, illegal tobacco smuggling scams and the sheltering of serious organised criminals, including the notorious Balkan drug trafficker Darko Saric.
Some analysts had suggested that Djukanovic’s share of the vote might be damaged by the fact that the Montenegrin people had grown tired of the institutionalised corruption at the top of their government, quoting recent polling data that showed as many as half do not trust their leaders.
“I have no doubt that the opposition will show its strength and that the Democratic Front will become [the] future framework of the Montenegro government,” Democratic Front leader Andrija Mandic said late last night. “Today is the last day of Djukanovic’s 27-year rule.”