Montenegrins are casting their ballots today in an independence referendum which could dissolve their country’s union with Serbia.
Polls have put the secessionist camp slightly ahead of those wanting to preserve the union. Led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, 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. The vote is also a test of the prime minister’s credibility. He has waged a fierce campaign divided largely along ethnic lines with his main adversary, Predrag Bulatovic. Bulatovic’s 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. However independence supporters still have the edge. If they manage to get the 55 percent majority required, the small Adriatic republic will become Europe’s newest state. Turnout has already passed the minimum 50 percent threshold set by the European Union. Half of voters had already cast their ballots within the first few hours of polling. EU observers have monitored the vote, with final results expected tomorrow morning.