Who's who in Montenegro run-off election: Organized crime and Europe on agenda
CGTN reporter Aljosa Milenkovic

Montenegro's veteran president Milo Dukanović faces a run-off on Sunday April 2 against the pro-Western former economy minister Jakov Milatović.

After no candidate secured a 50 percent majority in a first-round election two weeks ago, it promises to be a tight and tense race to the finish post. 

So who are the two candidates?

Name: Milo Dukanović

Party: Democratic Party of Socialists – DPS

Brief bio: He was born in November 1961. Aged 25, he graduated from tourism studies at the Faculty of Economics in Titograd (today Podgorica). He started his political career in 1979 and joined the young communists. 

After a lot of political activism and climbing political ladders, he was appointed Prime Minister of Montenegro in 1991. He has since alternated between the roles of PM (1991–1998, 2003–2006, 2008–2010 and 2012–2016) and president (1998-2003, 2018 to date). 

He is frequently accused by the Montenegrin opposition of creating conditions for the country to become a safe haven for narcotics and cigarette smuggling. 

In 2003, the prosecutor in Naples in Italy requested his arrest for the alleged participation in billions of dollars worth of racketeering schemes. In 2009, the prosecutor's office dropped the charges.

Name: Jakov Milatović

Party: Europe Now

Brief bio: Born in December 1986, he graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Podgorica, and gained a Masters degree at Oxford University. He worked at Deutsche Bank until 2014, when he moved to the EBRD. 

Since 2019, he has been the principal economist within the EBRD for the EU countries, with the base in Romania's capital, Bucharest. In 2020, he returned to Montenegro to serve as Economy Minister until April 2022. 

In the same year, together with his co-worker Milojko Spajić, he created the party Europe Now. He is pro-European and advocates stronger ties with Serbia.

Jakov Milatović or Milo Đukanović? The race is on for the Montenegro Presidency. /Stevo Vasiljevic/Reuters
Jakov Milatović or Milo Đukanović? The race is on for the Montenegro Presidency. /Stevo Vasiljevic/Reuters

Jakov Milatović or Milo Đukanović? The race is on for the Montenegro Presidency. /Stevo Vasiljevic/Reuters



Fighting organized crime in Montenegro is at the top of the list of challenger Milatović. 

He claims the 30+ years of rule by Đukanović has destroyed the country, and turned it into "Balkans Colombia" – an accusation strongly rejected by the incumbent president. 

In the past few years, a number of Montenegrin citizens were involved in busted major drug trafficking rings in Montenegro and worldwide.


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Both candidates want Montenegro to become a full EU member. Incumbent Dukanović says that after he wins the election, Montenegro will join the EU during his mandate. 

Challenger Milatović accuses Dukanović of creating an EU membership a 'pipe dream' for Montenegro as he is refusing to implement EU standards in the country.


Both candidates pledge to not just stop the mass emigration of Montenegro's youth into more developed countries, but to lure them back. 

Dukanović promised an average monthly salary of over $1,600 – for comparison, in February the actual average nudged just over $1,000 – while Milatović is promising a change in the political and economic environment that would clear the country of endemic corruption.



There are no available opinion polls for the second round of the election. However, with most eliminated candidates urging their supporters to back challenger Milatović, the mathematics of the first-round vote suggest Montenegro could soon have a fresh face in the presidential palace. 


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