Montenegro parliamentary election kicks off with high turnout

Voting is underway in Montenegro to elect a new parliament.

Some 540,000 voters will choose between the ruling the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) – which has governed Montenegro for around 30 years – and the pro-Serb and pro-Russian “For the future of Montenegro” alliance.

The opposition alliance wants closer ties with Belgrade and Moscow and has backed protests against a contested law on church property rights that inflamed the country’s debate for months.

The issue has fueled divisions in the nation of 620,000 people that has defied its traditional Slavic allies to become independent in 2006 and join NATO in 2017.

Turnout in the first two hours of the vote was around 14%, twice as high as that in the previous parliamentary election, in 2016.

Four years ago the ballot was rocked by an attempted coup orchestrated by Russian agents, Serbs and Montenegrin nationals that planned to kill the country’s then prime minister, Milo Djukanovic, and bring a pro-Moscow government to power.

Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said the state will deal with any attempts to affect this election.

“This is the day when Montenegro decides to move strongly forward toward economic and general development — a Montenegro that is a member of the European Union and a reliable member of NATO,” he added.

Djukanovic said Sunday’s vote will determine whether Montenegro will continue toward membership in the European Union or allow Serbia and Russia to install their stooges.

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