İrem UZUN -TDO- The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), ruled by President Milo Djukanovic, 58, has been in power in Montenegro for 30 years and is entering tomorrow’s parliamentary election politically weakened. Whether it will indeed have to step down in the coming weeks is still unknown.

DPS is in line for 34.7 percent of the vote, followed by the opposition "For the Future of Montenegro" alliance with 33.1 percent, according to a poll by election monitor CeMI based on 70 percent of its sample.  While the opposition consists of mainly Serb nationalist parties, they want closer ties with Serbia and Russia. By the time polls closed at 18:00 GMT, voter turnout stood at 75.9 percent, slightly higher than the 2016 parliamentary elections which marked a voter turnout of 73.4 percent.

Sunday's election was largely marked by a dispute over a law on religious rights introduced in late 2019 that is staunchly opposed by the influential Serbian Orthodox Church.  The church has argued the law allows the state to confiscate its property as a prelude to setting up a separate church. This has been denied by the government.

The Serbian Orthodox Church remains Montenegro's largest religious institution and a third of its population identify as Serb.  The issue has fuelled divisions and sparked protests in the Adriatic nation of 620,000 people and a NATO member since 2017.

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