By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Montenegrins are voting in parliamentary elections that are widely expected to keep the longest-serving government in the Balkans in power for another term.
The October 14 vote comes as the tiny country seeks membership in the European Union and battles an economic downturn.
Opinion polls have suggested that the ruling Coalition for a European Montenegro is favored to sweep to victory, potentially taking almost half of the vote.
A win for the coalition could lead to the return to the prime minister’s office of Milo Djukanovic, head of the Democratic Party of Socialists.
On the street of Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, voters were divided over the pros and cons of keeping the ruling party in power.
“The people who are in power now have been in power for a long time, for 23 years. They are firmly attached to power,” said one man.
“In other words, it is their state, it belongs to them, it is not the state of Montenegro, it is their private state.”
But another Podgorica resident defended the Democratic Party of Socialists.
“Bearing in mind that they are more experienced, that they are more serious, they will manage to secure better living standards in the next four years and bring prosperity to Montenegro,” he said.
Djukanovic, who has led Montenegro as president or prime minister for most of the past two decades, helped guide the tiny Balkan state to independence from Serbia in 2006 and now supports Montenegro’s entry into the European Union and NATO.
The ruling coalition has been faulted over allegations of high-level corruption and for failing to keep the country of less than 700,000 people out of an economic downturn.