Montenegrins are voting today in an independence referendum which could dissolve its union with Serbia.
Polls have put the pro-independence camp slightly ahead of those wanting to preserve the union. But secessionists will have to secure a 55 percent majority to ensure a clear win.
Montenegro’s pro-independence government says dissolving formal links with Serbia will not only mean a faster path to the EU, but also further economic development. If the vote goes their way it will make the small Adriatic republic Europe’s newest state.
The pro-union camp argues that Montenegro is too small to survive alone and cannot afford to lose out on jobs, education and health care that its more populous neighbour can offer.
The vote will test the credibility of prime minister Milo Djukanovic. He’s waged a fierce campaign divided largely along ethnic lines with his main adversary, Predrag Bulatovic, leader of the pro-Serb unionists.
European observers will monitor the vote, with the result not expected before Monday morning at the earliest.