In the third vote since Montenegro gained independence from Serbia in 2006, the coalition led by Milo Djukanovic will stay in power. The European Montenegro coalition won 45.6% of the vote and 39 of 81 seats in parliament, although results are unofficial.
The ruling coalition won in spite of a faltering economy and charges of corruption against the long time ruling coalition led by Djukanovic. The country is seeking membership in the European Union.
The country has no currency of its own but adopted the euro, in spite of concerns from Brussels about doing so. Montenegro hopes to be among the next batch of nations to join the EU, after its neighbour Croatia joins in 2013.
Djukanovic praised the victory saying:"This is a great victory. Montenegro's ruling coalition is a rare one in Europe that has maintained confidence of voters in such difficult times of crisis."
According to results released by the Center for Monitoring group, the leading opposition group, the Democratic Front won 23.7% of the vote or 20 seats in parliament. Next was the pro-Serb Socialist People's Party with 10.5% of the vote and nine seats. The official results will probably be announced on Monday the 15th of October.
Djukanovic's group will need to gain the support of some minoirity group or groups as it failed to achieve a majority in the parliament. This often happens, as Zlatko Vujovic of the Center for Monitoring remarked. The leader of the main oppositiion party Miodrag Lekic claimed these elections marked the beginning of the end for the long ruling coalition.
Djukanovic has repeatedly denied any charges of corruption. However, an audit by Price Waterhouse done in 2010 raised questions about Piva Banka (First Bank) controlled by the Djukanovic family. The audit revealed that most of the money deposited at the bank came from public funds. Fully two thirds of the loans that it made went to the Djukanovics and their close associates.
Miranda Patrucic. an investigator, told the BBC that the Djukanovic and their associates treated the bank like their personal ATM and a wonderful source of cash. The cash was no doubt used to help restore the coalition to power!
There have been many protests after privatizations that resulted in large price increases for many goods and services. However, even with unemployment at more than 12% and an average salary of the equivalent to $620 a month, Montenegrans have supported the status quo.