Preliminary projections show six-time prime minister and onetime president Milo Djukanovic as the winner of Montenegro’s presidential election.
The Center for Election Monitoring (CeMI) projected Djukanovic winning over 53 percent of the vote, which would give him an outright victory in Sunday’s election.
Based on the projection, Montenegro’s ruling party declared its leader the winner.
“Milo Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro,” said Milos Nikolic of the Democratic Party of Socialists.
Businessman Mladen Bojanic was projected for second place with 34.2 percent.
The vote, the first since Montenegro joined NATO in December, was seen as a test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to traditional ally Moscow.
Djukanovic, the country’s dominant politician, and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for nearly 30 years.
He led Montenegro to independence from much-larger Serbia in 2006 and was behind the NATO bid. He hopes next to steer the country into the European Union.
Bojanic has accused the ruling party of corruption and links to organized crime following a spike in crime-related violence.
None of the other five candidates, including lawmaker Draginja Vuksanovic, the first woman to run for Montenegro’s presidency, reached double digits in polling.