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Second round will take place in Montenegro, where a change of presidency is expected

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A megjelenés dátuma

Második forduló Second round

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Olvasási idő: 4 perc

In the second round of Montenegro’s presidential election, incumbent Milo and former Economy Minister Jakov Milatović will face off. They secured the top two spots in the first round, where votes were significantly divided among the top four candidates, while the bottom three candidates together barely managed to scrape five percent. The second round will be held on April 2nd. One Montenegrin news portal has already suggested that the incumbent president will be running a victory lap in the second round. Indeed, Đukanović has slim chances of ultimate victory, especially since he represents the past against the future in April.

The national topic may take a back seat

After counting all the votes, the Montenegrin Election Commission announced the unofficial results of the presidential election, indicating that there will be a second round on April 2nd.

According to the final data, incumbent Milo Đukanović won 35.2 percent of the votes, while Jakov Milatović, the founder of the liberal Europe Now movement, finished second with 29.2 percent of the votes.

Második forduló

„We will succeed” – claims Jakov Milatović, who is in the second round and has a good chance of taking the final victory (Source: Twitter, Jakov Milatović)

This second place indicates that voters turned towards their wallets and did not forget that Milatović was the former Economy Minister of the previous government, during which time the minimum wage increased from 220 to 450 euros.

Based on the results, it can be inferred that economic issues will dominate the presidential election campaign leading up to the second round, as Andrija Mandić, who represents Serbian national interests, only finished third with 19.3 percent.

Centrist Aleksa Bečić finished fourth with 10.9 percent, while the other three candidates only managed to collect a combined 5.4 percent of the votes.

Đukanović is almost hopeless

According to the numbers and the political sentiment in Montenegro. It is clear that he has almost no chance of winning the second round, meaning he will not be able to hold the presidency for a third five-year term.

The Vijesti Montenegrin news portal went so far as to call the April 2nd second round a tribute to Đukanović, indicating that the current president, who has been an unavoidable political figure for the past three decades, will most likely retire from public life, or at least from the top tier.

This is also evident from the fact that Milatović, who came in second, gained a significant advantage in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, with 7,300 more votes than the current president.

At first glance, this may not seem like a lot, but Montenegro is a small country, so small numbers can make a big difference. Milatović received 37,743 votes, while Đukanović received only 30,447, which is a roughly 20 percent advantage.

It is clear that government officials generally perform worse in larger cities than in rural areas, but this alone would not necessarily predict a defeat.

However, looking at the distribution of votes, it is evident that Đukanović has lost his support base and has no significant reserves for the second round.

The voter base slipped away from under him

One could say that the current president’s voter base slipped away from under him. Montenegrin society is finally „ripe” to replace Đukanović, who is considered a vestige of the communist era, and thereby not only bring about a political but also a generational change.

Második forduló

The current Montenegrin president may be forced to leave (Source: Facebook, Milo Đukanović) 

Milatović, who gained experience at American and other foreign universities, has a strong advantage due to his good relationships with Montenegrin Serbs. This is because he served as minister in the government of the Serbian-born Zdravko Krivokapić, who reigned for a year and a half between 2020 and 2022.

It is no wonder that Andrija Mandić, who represented the Serbian-speaking Democratic Front and came in third place, has already announced that he will support Milatović in the second round of voting.

-Without the support of the Democratic Front, Milatović has no chance in the second round… Tonight, on behalf of the Democratic Front, I fully support Milatović, and I call on all Montenegrin citizens to support him

said Mandić, who represents the decisive Serbian-speaking population. These are strong words that suggest Đukanović is already dancing his swan song in the second round.

Although Mandić added that he does not believe Milatović is the best candidate, he believes that „the candidate who Montenegro’s majority must line up behind.”

– This is our duty, we have been fighting against Đukanović for 25 years

Második forduló

Serbian Andrija Mandić, who aimed to represent both the future and tradition, was able to secure only the third place

said the Montenegrin- Serb politician, who believes that the primary goal is to remove Đukanović from the presidency, which can now be achieved by Milatović.

Considering that a significant portion of the voter base for centrist Aleksa Bečić, who came in fourth place, will likely also vote against Đukanović, it is accurate to say that the first round of the presidential election marks the beginning of the end for the current Montenegrin president. Đukanović’s last noteworthy move was to call for parliamentary elections on June 11, which will likely dig the grave for his own party.


Dodik travels to Moscow, yet receives money from the European Union

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a megjelenés dátuma

Dodik pénzt kap az EU-tól / Dodik travels to Moscow and receives money from the EU

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Olvasási idő: 5 perc

The European Commission has lifted the suspension it imposed last year on the disbursement of EU funds intended for the Bosnian Serb Republic. Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb entity, expressed his gratitude to his coalition partners for their support in this matter, while the entity he leads is experiencing worsening economic conditions. The upcoming repayment of bonds issued on the Vienna Stock Exchange this year may force Dodik to take on additional significant loans. It is possible that he will seek assistance in as well.

In Brussels, they loosened their grip

Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, achieved a significant result on Friday, as the EU revoked the suspension of EU-funded development projects in the Serbian entity.

The disbursement of EU funds intended for the Bosnian Serb Republic had been suspended since February last year, as the EU Commission sought to exert pressure on Dodik’s Independent Social Democrats Alliance (Savez Nezavisnih Socijaldemokrata, SNSD) due to their secessionist tendencies.

Although the European Union did not impose sanctions on Bosnian Serb political leaders at that time, the Commission ordered the freezing of all projects receiving EU support.

It was already known at the time of the halt in investments, mostly related to infrastructure development, that the Serbian entity, burdened by significant debt due to bonds issued on international stock exchanges, would not be able to compensate for the resulting shortfall from its own budget.

In May of this year, several Bosnian newspapers reported that the leadership of the Bosnian Serb Republic could be in trouble if they do not find new external funding to finance their accumulated external debt.

While the risk of technical bankruptcy is not discussed in Banja Luka, it can be assumed that the EU, in plain terms, „didn’t let Dodik off the hook” and resumed the disbursement of previously frozen financial assets.

According to experts knowledgeable in the Bosnian financial sector, the EU’s restart of programs has provided a lifeline to the otherwise grim state of the Bosnian Serb economy.

However, experts agreed that the influx of EU funds alone will not be sufficient to ensure the necessary growth for financing external debt. This is because its impact does not generate enough additional GDP growth in the Bosnian Serb Republic to break free from the debt spiral.

One may ask, why did Brussels yield?

The answer, according to many, is that this step was a significant gesture towards the Bosnian Serb region on the brink of international isolation and economic collapse.

Dodik, in turn, has only earned this by fulfilling the coalition agreement he made with the Croatian Democratic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica Bosne i Hercegovine, HDZ BiH) and the left-wing Bosnian party alliance known as the „troika” until now.

Troubles within the coalition arise

The importance of restarting EU programs is also reflected in Dodik himself expressing gratitude, in front of the press, to Elmedin Konaković, the Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for consistently keeping the issue of restarting frozen projects in the Serbian entity on the agenda during his visits to Brussels this year.

elmedin konakovic milorad dodik 1

On the right, Elmedin Konaković, the Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs, plays the role of a helpful lobbyist, while on the left, Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, needs to be connected to a financial infusion

Simultaneously with the announcement of the financial good news, Denis Bečirović, the Bosnian member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, also held negotiations with members of the Western Balkans Working Group of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Bečirović’s participation in the meeting caused significant disruption within the communication machinery of the Bosnian government coalition. This was because the member of the presidency asked the present EU representatives to impose further sanctions against Dodik, and he described the continuation of the disbursement of EU financial assets as a „terribly bad step.”

Regarding Bečirović’s stance against Dodik, it is worth noting that in previous years, he has repeatedly accused the top Bosnian Serb leader of separatist tendencies and violating the principles of the Dayton Agreement.

His recent actions were particularly uncomfortable for his own party, the Social Democratic Party (Socijaldemokratska Stranka, SDP), as this position completely contradicted the coalition government’s stance, including that of his own party, regarding EU funds.

Although there haven’t been similar levels of communication discord among some players within the five-party government coalition in the past, and the government seemingly continued its work uninterrupted, strong figures within the coalition parties often make comments that indicate underlying tension.

When it comes to separate communication, the SDP takes the lead, as several prominent members sharply criticize the work of the coalition partners organized on the basis of two ethnicities, the Bosnian Serb SNSD and the Croatian HDZ BiH.

The ‘unique word scattering’ observed in the communication of the SDP can be traced back to the fact that the Yugoslav state party’s successor organization in Bosnia, in addition to its traditional center-left orientation, has sought to broaden its support among progressive and neo-Marxist youth groups. These groups find it difficult to accept that the SDP, which represents a multiethnic and atheist approach they support, formed an alliance with the Bosnian Serb and Croatian conservative political forces that were continuously criticized in the previous cycle.

Dodik needs to pay (or should pay)

Regardless of the opening of EU funds, the economic situation of the Bosnian Serb Republic is difficult to assess positively.

The maturity dates of entity bonds issued on the London and Vienna stock exchanges are approaching, and their repayment will pose a significant burden on the budget of the Serb entity.

The numbers speak for themselves.

This year, the Serb entity has a bond-based debt obligation of approximately 1,099 million BAM (convertible mark), which amounts to 208 billion Hungarian forints. In addition, the government of the Bosnian Serb Republic has to pay an additional 900 million BAM (170 billion Hungarian forints) this year based on other commitments.

A significant portion of these obligations is related to certain infrastructure investments. From this year’s upcoming debt pile, a portion of the Bosnian Serb bonds issued on the Vienna Stock Exchange in previous years will mature in June. After this, the Serb entity will have to pay approximately 400 million BAM (75 billion Hungarian forints).

To ensure the financing of the mentioned debt, the Bosnian Serb Republic received a loan of 180 million BAM (34 billion Hungarian forints) from Hungary.

We have previously reported in detail about this transaction and the support program provided by the Hungarian government to Bosnian Serb agricultural entrepreneurs.

According to news reports in the Bosnian press, in order to continue rolling over the high external debt, Dodik may be preparing, or rather, be forced to take on another loan of approximately 2 billion BAM (380 billion Hungarian forints) in the near future.

Most analysts link this future transaction, which has so far been only speculation, to the Chinese development funds that are still leading in the Western Balkans region, due to the drying up of Russian resources. However, it is also possible that Dodik may once again knock on Budapest’s door for a little injection of funds.

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