Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro’s most powerful politician for several decades, as expected won the April 15 presidential election in the first round, gaining 53.8% of the votes, preliminary results announced by Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT) showed.
Djukanovic has not lost an election in almost 30 years and was either prime minister or president for most of that time. He has twice announced his retirement, but never really left politics. Taking aim at the presidency after stepping down as prime minister following the October 2016 general election, he easily defeated his main rival, the pro-Russian, anti-Nato Mladen Bojanic in an election seen as symbolic referendum on Montenegro’s political orientation between Russia and the West.
Bojanic was left far behind, gaining 33.5% support, while Draginja Vuksanovic, the country's first ever female presidential candidate, came third with just 8.3%.
Djukanovic hailed the result as a "confirmation of the firm resolve of Montenegro to continue on its European path, to continue the path that will lead us to EU membership."
“Montenegro has chosen the politics of continuity and state stability,” Andrija Nikolic, an MP from Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), told broadcaster RTCG shortly after the first results were announced.
In his speech after the results were announced, Djukanovic thanked his supporters and said he will not betray their trust.
On the other hand, supporters of Bojanic called the result a “defeat for the whole Montenegrin society”.
“We enter a state of dictatorship, we are entering a fourth decade of unchangeable power,” Marko Milacic, one of the candidates for the post, said.
Bojanic said that he will continue the fight and that does not accept the election result as a defeat.
“I am proud of my result. We had as rival a man who has captured the entire state and its institutions,” Bojanic said.
The opposition also claimed that there were a number of irregularities on election day.
Djukanovic, called by political analysts the political brand of Montenegro, announced his candidacy shortly before the election, and polls consistently showed that no rival could beat him.
The rather invisible election campaign resulted in a lower than usual turnout – around 64% of Montenegrins voted. In the last general election the turnout was close to 80%. The vote went quietly unlike the 2016 election when a coup plot was thwarted by police the day before the election, and cyber attacks were launched on election day.
More than 1,000 local observers from the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), 350 observers of CDT and 100 observers of OSCE monitored the voting process.