ADDS FIRST REMARKS, LATEST FIGURES
By Talha Ozturk
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Montenegro will hold a second round of presidential elections after none of the candidates managed to secure more than 50% of the vote Sunday.
According to preliminary results based on 99.2% of the votes counted, incumbent President Milo Djukanovic of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro won 35.3% of the vote while economist Jakov Milatovic of the newly-formed Europe Now group garnered 29.2%.
Based on data from the Center for Monitoring and Research (CEMI) and the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), Djukanovic and Milatovic will face each other in a runoff on April 2.
This will be followed by early parliamentary elections on June 11, according to an announcement by Djukanovic on Friday.
Turnout was 62.7% in Montenegro, where over 542,000 registered voters are eligible to cast their ballots in the Western Balkan nation's eighth presidential election since transitioning to a multi-party system in 1990.
Having served six times as prime minister and twice as president, Djukanovic, 61, is known for his pro-Western policies.
Djukanovic thanked voters and said the votes he received would be an "important advantage" for him in the second round.
Another favorite in the pre-election polls, Andrija Mandic, the leader of the pro-Russia Democratic Front party, who won 19.3% of the vote, said his party would support Milatovic in the second round.
Draginja Vuksanovic-Stankovic, an MP and the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), announced that she had resigned from her party and her parliamentary position following the election results.
Vuksanovic-Stankovic won 3.2% of the vote.
Aleksa Becic of the Democratic Montenegro party won 10.9%, Goran Danilovic of the United Montenegro party garnered 1.4% and social media phenomenon and independent candidate Jovan Jodzir Radulovic won 0.8%.
- Political crisis in Montenegro
The process of forming a new government, which started after the administration led by Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic failed last year's vote of confidence, has since devolved into a political crisis.
Abazovic's government had caused controversy after signing a "fundamental agreement" with the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Porfirije for Montenegro to give the church an "official status."
While pro-Serbian parties in the country proposed that lawmaker Miodrag Lekic form a new government, Djukanovic refused to give him a mandate on the grounds that he did not fulfill the necessary conditions
However, Lekic was later tasked with forming the government after the passage of a law that restricted presidential powers in the government’s formation.
But he failed to do so, falling short of the majority parliamentary support needed to form a government within the stipulated time limit.