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Last Updated: Monday, 11 September 2006, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Q&A: Montenegro votes
Supporters of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic at his final election rally
Independence has proved a divisive issue

Montenegro has completed its voting for a new parliament and government - its first election as an independent state.

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has claimed victory.

Only three months ago, Montenegrins voted for separation from Serbia by the narrowest of margins, and observers were watching to see how the pro-independence and pro-Serb camps matched up this time.

The pro-independence party of Mr Djukanovic had been widely expected to remain the largest force in the National Assembly but it was thought he might fall short of an absolute majority.

What has been at stake?

Control of the 81-seat parliament, which in turn elects the government by a simple majority vote.

The electoral system used is proportional representation, with each party being allocated seats in proportion to its share of the popular vote.

In addition to the parliamentary election, voters choose new local councils in 14 towns.

What has been the influence of the independence referendum on the vote?

The pro-independence campaign led by Mr Djukanovic won a narrow victory in the 21 May referendum, barely scraping past the 55% needed to win.

The result was rejected by the pro-Serbian camp, which said the vote had been rigged.

Since the referendum, the anti-independence campaign has regrouped into three separate political blocs.

What was the opposition's stance?

None of them has explicitly recognised the outcome of the referendum, although only campaigned for independence to be revoked.

Opposition forces were also angered by President Filip Vujanovic's decision to bring forward the elections, which were originally to be held on 20 October.

They said the move had given them too little time and funding to prepare.

Who were the main contenders?

DPS/SDP/HGI coalition: Headed by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists, which has been the main party of government.

In the early 1990s, the party was a strong supporter of continued union with Serbia, as well of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's nationalist policies.

But since Mr Djukanovic took over as leader in 1997, the party has moved towards support for Montenegrin independence and integration into the EU and Nato.

SNP/NS/DSS coalition: Led by the main opposition party, the Socialist People's Party (SNP).

The SNP was created in 1998 after splitting from Mr Djukanovic's DPS. Its leader is Predrag Bulatovic, who led the anti-independence campaign in the May referendum.

Although he still has not officially recognised the referendum result, Mr Bulatovic has said Montenegrin integration with the EU and Nato is a key policy.

The Serb List: Led by the Serb People's Party (SNS), a conservative party which claims to represent the interests the Serb community in Montenegro.

The SNS rejects the referendum result and wants to renew the union with Serbia. Its chairman is Andrija Mandic.

The other main party in the alliance is the Serbian Radical Party - Vojislav Seselj (SRP-VS) - the Montenegrin branch of Serbia's hardline nationalist party of the same name.

Its formal leader in both countries is Vojislav Seselj, who is currently awaiting trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

The Movement for Change (PZP): Created out of the Group for Change - a non-party social movement which supported the pro-Serb alliance in the referendum on independence - this party is standing for the first time.

The Movement for Change, led by Nebojsa Medojeva, says its aims are to "topple the Djukanovic regime" and tackle crime and corruption.

How was the vote monitored?

The European regional security body, the OSCE, sent an observer mission at Montenegro's request to monitor the vote.

The mission, which is to be composed of 150 observers, monitored campaigning, media coverage, the authorities' conduct of the election, and observed the voting process on election day.

It issues an initial report on the day after the polls, and a final report about eight weeks from then.

What happened at the last election?

The last election in October 2002 was fought by slightly different coalitions, with two main alliances - one for and one against independence - dominating the political scene.

The pro-independence group led by Mr Djukanovic's DPS won 48% of the vote and 39 of 75 seats in parliament. The SNP-led pro-Serb coalition won 38% and 30 seats.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Profile: Serbia and Montenegro
05 Jun 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Montenegro
28 Jun 06 |  Country profiles
Q&A: Montenegro referendum
22 May 06 |  Europe

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