The people of Montenegro go to the polls today in the country’s first general election since it declared independence three months ago. Polls suggest voters will overwhelmingly back the leaders who cut them loose from Serbia and that will spell victory for the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. He is hoping his coalition with the Social Democratic Party will lead to an absolute majority in parliament to cap their victory in May’s independence referendum.
The main opposition group, headed by Predrag Bulatovic, is expected to come a distant second. It consists of three parties that opposed Montenegrin independence. But even if it wins it has no plans to reverse independence as European Union membership is the ultimate goal of all parties contesting. A major persuader in the independence campaign was the argument that Montenegro must shrug off Serbia’s heavy political baggage which includes the handover of war crime suspects.
Now that most of the euphoria has died down many analysts will be watching the election performance of the new Movement for Change party which is highly critical of Montenegro’s deeply entrenched political hierarchy. But whoever wins today’s election, few doubt that Milo Djukanovic will continue to be the most powerful man in Europe’s newest independent state.