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Clash in the Adriatic as pollsters say a young contender could become Montenegro's new president

Economist Jakov Milatovic of the newly-formed Europe Now group, left, and his wife Milena wait at the polling station in Montenegro's capital Podgorica, Sunday, March 19, 2023
Economist Jakov Milatovic of the newly-formed Europe Now group, left, and his wife Milena wait at the polling station in Montenegro's capital Podgorica, Sunday, March 19, 2023 Copyright Risto Bozovic/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Risto Bozovic/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Stephan Goranović, Ljubisha Ivanović, Euronews
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Election pollsters in Montenegro are predicting the incumbent president Milo Đukanović, who has led the country in various posts for three decades, could be swept aside by Europe Now candidate Jakov Milatović.

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The second round of presidential elections in Montenegro in two weeks could see a new era in the political history of the Balkan country that sits on the shores of the Adriatic.

One man has dominated the political scene there for 34 years in a career that spanned the fall of the iron curtain and independence.

In 1989 Milo Đukanović served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Montenegro, which was that part of the federal republic of Yugoslavia. In 2006, he was a driving force for independence from the Serbian-Montenegrin federation.

After the result of the first round on March 19, Đukanović, 61,  said his 6-point lead gave him a “serious advantage” in the next round.

And while the incumbent Đukanović remains a contender in the presidential race, the polls are predicting the vote on April 2nd could see Jakov Milatović declared the winner.

"I was three years old when Mr Đukanović entered Montenegrin politics,” said Europe Now candidate Jakov Milatović, 37, who claims 100,000 people have left Montenegro during the rule of his opponent.

“This victory will be sealed on April 2 and it is the victory of free Montenegro. It is the victory of a more beautiful, richer and fairer Montenegro. It's a win for all of us.”

Jakov Milatović was a surprise contender for the presidency, and only stepped in when the original Europe Now candidate Milojko Spajić was disqualified on the grounds that he has dual Serbian-Montenegrin citizenship.

Milatović was the Minister of Economic Development in the Government of former prime minister Zdravko Krivokapić, which was formed after the victory in the parliamentary elections in 2020. Although he was a popular minister, some economists criticised his policies.

After the presidential vote on April 2nd, voters in Montenegro will be going to the polls again on June 11, when parliamentary elections are due to be held.

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