Montenegro is holding a parliamentary election on Sunday, the tenth since the introduction of a multi-party system and the fourth since it gained independence, and the vote will be a sort of referendum for or against NATO and European Union membership.
A total of 530,840 eligible voters will elect 81 deputies from 17 slates.
At all previous elections, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has been a convincing winner with its coalition partners, mainly minority parties and the Social Democrats, but this year the situation will probably be uncertain until the very end, primarily because of a strong opposition, which those in power claim is financed from Moscow and by Russian, Serbian and Montenegrin tycoons.
The key roles will be held by DPS and two opposition alliances, the Democratic Front and the Key coalition.
The Croatian Civic Initiative, the only party representing Croats' interests in Montenegro, stood by DPS in the last election and had a minister without a portfolio in the government.
Analysts predict that, in case the ruling coalition is defeated, the country will make a complete turnaround in its foreign policy and that this could foment nationalist tensions, internal instability and the spreading of the crisis to the region.
Montenegro has opened 25 policy chapters in its EU accession negotiations, provisionally closing two, which makes it the most successful in the region. Also, eight NATO member countries have signed Montenegro's accession protocol, a process expected to be completed early next year.
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