- Written by Thomas Mackintosh
- BBC News
Longtime Montenegrin leader Milo Djukanovic suffered a resounding defeat in the presidential election.
Jakov Milatović, the 36-year-old centrist former economy minister, claimed victory Sunday night after the presidential runoff.
He will replace Mr Djukanovic, who has held power as Montenegro’s president or prime minister for more than three decades.
Early parliamentary elections are scheduled for the summer.
“Tonight is the night we have been waiting for over 30 years. I wish you a happy victory,” Milatović told Europe Now supporters in the capital, Podgorica.
He promised to lead his tiny Balkan country into the European Union within the next five years.
Official results are expected later in the week – but two reputable election-monitoring organizations predict a Milatović victory.
The Center for Monitoring and Research’s polling group said Milatović had 60% of the vote.
Djukanovic was Europe’s youngest prime minister when he came to power at the age of 29 in 1991 – the beginning collapse of Yugoslavia. Led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in 2006.
As the scale of Milatović’s victory became clear on Sunday night, Djukanović conceded his defeat, and wished Milatović success as president.
“He chose Montenegro, and I respect that choice,” he told his supporters.
Although the presidential office in Montenegro is largely a ceremonial one, winning the election could improve the chances of the winning party in the June 11 parliamentary elections.
During the election campaign, Milatović promised to reduce corruption, improve living standards, and strengthen relations with the European Union and neighboring Serbia.
The 37-year-old has received support from parties close to Serbia, Russia and the Orthodox Church.
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