Montenegro's ruling party leader Milo Djukanovic swept a presidential election on Sunday, preliminary results showed, and he pledged to keep the small Balkan country firmly on a European path after it joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation previous year in defiance of Russian Federation.
When supported, the outcome will present a big raise for Djukanovic, that defied this past year, Russian Federation to carry his own country.
With 80 per cent of ballots counted, the Center for Monitoring and Research said on Sunday that Djukanovic had won about 53 per cent of the vote, ahead of his main opponent Mladen Bojanic with 34 per cent.
The Balkan nation's ruling social democrat party declared its head Milo Djukanovic the victor after 90% of the votes were counted, winning 53% of the ballots.
"Just as we said, we have received 54% of the vote in the first round of the election and left the other six candidates behind", Djukanovic said at his election headquarters. President Filip Vujanovic is maybe not running due to word limits.
Djukanovic, the country's dominant politician, and his party have ruled Montenegro for almost 30 years.
"I will win today", Djukanovic had said after voting.
About 530,000 voters chose among several candidates in the Adriatic Sea nation that used to be part of Yugoslavia.
The opposition accuses Djukanovic of being linked to the mafia, which he denies.
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Supreme court judge Pablo Llarena refused last week to release him from jail and he faces up to 25 years on charges of rebellion. The court has ordered him to remain in Germany and check in with police weekly.
Bojanic quickly conceded saying, "Montenegro has chosen what it has chosen".
The country has also been marred by organized crime, with about 20 people killed by assassinations or vehicle bombs over the last two years.
His strongest rival is Bojanic, who has the support of most opposition parties, including pro-Russian factions, and is expected to secure around a third of the vote.
Earlier in the campaign he accused Djukanovic of being "the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".
Surveys indicate Djukanovic can win over 1 / 2 of those votes and also prevent a runoff.
With Montenegro's average salary at around 500 euros ($615) and unemployment at over 20 percent, the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.
For Djukanovic, however, the choice between Brussels and Moscow is crucial to Montenegro's development.
Montenegro, along with Serbia, is the favourite to join the European Union next, possibly as early as 2025.
"Congratulation to Montenegro citizens on free and democratic presidential elections".