On the 15th April, Montenegrin citizens are called to elect their new President for the next five year term. Ever since the country regained its independence on the 3rd June 2006, it has gone to the polling stations twice to elect a President. Both times, Montenegro has backed Filip Vujanović, running with the Democratic Party of Socialists. Now, with the Constitution barring candidates from being elected more than twice, voters will have to make a different, new choice for their country.
The Montenegrin Electoral System
The country’s constitution requires that all candidates collect at least 7.993 signatures from the registered Montenegrin electorate, amounting to a total of 1.5%. The candidates may be nominated by either a party or by a citizen group. The President is then elected using a two-round system. For a candidate to win during the first round, they must receive an absolute majority of the votes – that is 50% +1 of all cast ballots. Failing this, a second round is held two weeks later between the two candidates with the highest amount of votes.
There are seven official candidates running for the elections, even though the two frontrunners alone hold over 80% of the preferences.
1 – Milo Đukanović
The first one is Đukanović, former president and six-times Prime Minister. He is backed by the Democratic Party of Socialists, the ruling government party since the 1990s. Both the party and the candidate strongly support EU membership for Montenegro’s future. During his time as Prime Minister, Đukanović has been fundamental in gaining NATO membership for his country.
2 – Mladen Bojanić
The second candidate is Bojanić, former member of the Parliament. He is running as an independent, but supported by a number of parties ranging from centre-left to centre-right. He is also the founder of Resistance to Hopelessness, an anti-establishment and anti-NATO political movement, although he abandoned it soon after its creation.
3 – Draginja Vuksanović
Vuksanović is a Professor of Law at the University of Montenegro and MP for the Social Democratic Party. Her nomination was also backed by the liberal conservative DEMOS party. She is the first female Montenegrin presidential candidate in the history of the country.
4 – Marko Milačić
He is a journalist and the founder of the extra-parliamentary party True Montenegro. He initially joined Bojanić’s Resistance to Hopelessness, and soon after became its de facto leader after Bojanić left. Out of this movement, Milačić then developed his political party in January 2018.
True Montenegro mainly aims to overthrow the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists. This is because it has been in power ever since Montenegro introduced a multi-party system. This right-wing party has as its main objective to remove Montenegro from NATO. Moreover, it seeks to align the country with Russia and proclaim military neutrality.
5 – Hazbija Kalač
Kalač is the president of the extra-parliamentary party Justice and Reconciliation. This party stands for social conservatorism and aims to protect the interests of Bosniak minorities in Montenegro.
6 – Dobrilo Dedeić
He is the president of the extra-parliamentary party Serb List. This Serbian nationalist party aims to represent the Serb minority in the country. It believes that Montenegro should reunite with Serbia as two brotherly states, and rejects the Montenegrin fight for EU integration.
7 – Vasilije Miličković
Miličković is a businessman running as an independent in this election, although he is supported by the Party of United Pensioners and the Disabled.
According to opinion polls, Đukanović has around 51% of the preferences, while Bojanić has 35%. As for the precedent 2013 election, which ended with one candidate winning 51% over the second candidate’s 49%, this is also set to be a close race. However, unlike during the last elections, a second round may not even be needed.
None of the remaining five candidates stands a chance of getting to the second round of the elections. Vuksanović is the third most popular candidate, and has only 8% of the preferences. Finally, all the other candidates combined only reach 6% in opinion polls.