End of the Djukanovic Era: Montenegro has a New President
Montenegro is likely to have a new president after the sociological institute CeMI predicted 60.1% of the vote for Jakov Milatovic, the former economy minister, over incumbent Milo Djukanovic.
Based on more than 90% processed election protocols, Djukanovic, who has ruled for just one term after three decades of dominating politics in Montenegro as prime minister or (earlier) as president, has 39.9% of the runoff.
The result at another institute also gave Milatovic a landslide victory: he led by almost 14 points (56.9 to 43.1) with 76% of the vote counted in the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) survey.
The vote comes months before a snap parliamentary election was called after the failure to form a minority. The last cabinet, which came to power after the first elections in modern history not won by Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), was overthrown with the help of the DPS that supported him.
Djukanovic's party hopes to return to power, but even if its result defies the polls, it currently has neither a government nor a head of state.
Voter turnout was over 70% - the highest since Montenegro officially became independent from Serbia (2006).
Who is Jakov Milatovic?
Milatovic, a candidate of the Europe Now movement, will lead the small (with 542,000 voters) Montenegro, occupying a post with a role more like an arbiter in the increasingly polarized parliamentary life. Critics of the former minister call him populist, pro-Donald Trump and pro-Serbian, and contrast him with Djukanovic, who has reoriented Montenegro towards the EU and NATO over the past decade.
His defenders see in him a chance for change after a long-term - and not completely ended - dominance of the DPS in politics in Montenegro. Djukanovic has been accused of treating the state as private property, of corruption and cronyism flourishing under his watch, and his authority was also targeted by the protests that gripped Montenegro (along with other countries such as Serbia and Albania) in the spring of 2020.
Critics point to the fact that Milatovic worked with the government of Zdravko KrivokapiC, the first to emerge from the previous parliament, but which quickly fell apart due to internal disputes, as a problem in Milatovic's biography. Together with another minister from this cabinet, Finance Minister Milojko Spaic, they created the "Europe Now" movement, part of whose policies are more left-wing and which some media in Montenegro defined as a project of Belgrade.
With his victory, the 36-year-old Milatovic, who studied in the US, Italy and Austria, unseats the leader who has held the post of prime minister or president for the longest time in Europe (and was democratically elected). His career has been mainly in the financial sector to date, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
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