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Montenegro Elects New Parliament, Sunday


Voters in Montenegro cast their ballots Sunday to elect members of parliament. The results could be very close between candidates favoring an independent Montenegro and those wanting to maintain ties with Serbia.

Analysts are predicting Sunday's parliamentary election may not yield a clear political victory for either side. Opinion polls give about 40 percent to candidates who support Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, who wants to loosen ties with Serbia. Trailing by only a few percentage points are those pro-Serbian candidates in Predrag Bulatovic's Socialist People's Party.

What makes the election to fill the 75-seat parliament so difficult to predict is a third political bloc represented by the smaller Liberal Party. The Liberal Party was instrumental in bringing down the last parliament, making this election necessary.

Nicholas White directs the Balkans Project at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, an independent think-tank specializing in international relations.

He says what is important for Montenegro is that a stable government be formed. He says last year's parliamentary elections failed to do that.

"If that result were repeated now, you would probably get a government consisting of the Liberals with the pro-Serbian opposition, a rather strange marriage of opposites, whose only point would be to remove President Djukanovic's supporters from power," he said.

Many Montenegrins say they are tired of waiting for change. They say they want much-needed political and economic reforms made in order to bring stability and eventual entry into the European Union.

Nikolai Vuchanov heads the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's mission observing Montenegro's parliamentary elections. He says the group is monitoring the entire election process from start to finish throughout Montenegro.

"We will be following the elections closely in all of its aspects," he said, "starting from the registration of the parties, to the preparation for the elections. The short term observers are about 110 all in all and will be engaged in observing the election day events which is the polling, the vote count and the tabulation of the results. "

A number of Montenegrins say their main hope is that their parliamentary elections will not be like Serbia's presidential election last week - having no clear winner.