By Samir Kajosevic
Montenegro’s centrist Europe Now movement took roughly a quarter of votes cast in Sunday’s parliamentary election, according to exit polls, but faces tough negotiations to secure a majority to govern.
The result confirmed Europe Now’s dominance after it took power in the capital, Podgorica, and another town in October last year and its deputy leader, Jakov Milatovic, beat incumbent Milo Djukanovic in April’s presidential election.
With 90 per cent of votes counted, NGO CEMI put Europe Now, led by former Finance Minister Milojko Spajic, on 25.5 per cent.
Milojko Spajic, the leader of Europe Now, said that the new government should be formed as soon as possible so the country could speed up reforms.
“We became the biggest party in the country. We will negotiate with those who share our values, but there will be no negotiations with the Democratic Party of Socialists,” Spajic told the press conference.
A bloc led by Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, which was swept from power in 2020 after three decades of uninterrupted rule, came second with 23.8 per cent.
Analysts predicted a period of tough negotiations to form a stable government, something that has proved elusive since the DPS fall.
“According to these electoral results, we will have a long period and hard negotiations to form the new government,” political analyst Predrag Zenovic told Vijesti TV. “The potential of political blackmail will be greater.”
In a sign of frustration with the political class, turnout slumped to a record low of 56.4 per cent, down from 73.4 per cent in the 2020 parliamentary election and 70.2 per cent for the presidential run-off in April.
According to election observers, there were no apparent incidents of ethnic tension and only minor electoral irregularities were reported.
In third place was the pro-Serbian For the Future of Montenegro, on 14.7 per cent; the centrist coalition of URA and Democratic Montenegro, led by outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and former parliament speaker Aleksa Becic, took 12.3 per cent.
The Bosniak Party took 6.9 per cent, while Albanian Forum, Albanian Alliance and Croatian Civic Initiative passed the threshold to enter parliament.
The election followed almost three years of almost constant political turbulence and the fall of two governments.
The next government faces dealing with high public debt and pressure to enact long-awaited reforms required of Montenegro under its European Union accession process.