Milatovic wins Montenegro presidential runoff

Belgrade (EFE).- Economist Jakov Milatovic, 37, won the presidential runoff election in Montenegro on Sunday with 60 percent of the votes, according to projections made from the ongoing vote count.

The future president was the candidate of the Europe Now (ES) youth movement and defeated current President Milo Djukanovic, who received 40 percent of the votes.

The calculations were made by the non-governmental CeMI organization and broadcast on RTCG public television based on the tabulation of 98 percent of the votes.

“In the coming five years (of my term), we will bring Montenegro into the European Union,” promised Milatovic in proclaiming his “historic victory.”

“Tonight, Montenegro has said goodbye to Europe’s last dictator, to the outdated and corrupt Djukanovic regime, and has taken an historic step toward (being) a richer, more egalitarian and European country,” said the president-elect, adding that he will devote himself to “the economy, the rule of law and European integration.”

More than 540,000 Montenegrans were eligible to vote on Sunday. The small Balkan country has been a NATO member since 2017 and is presently a candidate to enter the European Union.

With the defeat, Djukanovic thus also loses his latest elected post in Montenegro, a small former Yugoslav republic whose politics he has dominated for three decades having been elected prime minister six times and president twice.

Analysts say that Milatovic’s victory will accelerate the rise of his newly-formed ES party and could transform it into the largest parliamentary grouping in the June 11 legislative elections.

Although considered a populist by many analysts, Milatovic was the coauthor of an economic program that doubled – to 450 euros (about $486) per month – the minimum wage and increased by 40 percent, to 700 euros ($756), the average monthly salary, moves that garnered him huge popularity.

In fact, so great was the popularity he achieved that now he says he wants to capitalize on promises to raise the average monthly salary to 1,000 euros ($1080).

Milatovic was finance minister in the coalition that in December 2020 displaced Montenegro’s Democratic Socialist party (DPS), which Djukanovic had headed for decades.

After the fall of the government in April 2021, the economist founded the ES, a new party that still has no parliamentary representation and, although pro-European, is also closely aligned with neighboring – and much larger – Serbia.

EFE –/bp

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