Montenegro Voting for New Parliament; Election to Determine Path Forward

Montenegrins vote Sunday in parliamentary elections, choosing between the path toward EU membership, led by the long-ruling pro-Western party, or closer ties with Serbia and Russia advocated by a coalition of opposition groups.The elections are being held as a dispute over a religious property law opposed by the influential Serbian Orthodox Church brews.The church argues the law permits Montenegro to confiscate its property in efforts to create a separate Montenegrin church, the government has denied the claim.The main pro-Serb and -Russian opposition alliance, For the Future of Montenegro, backs the church.Polls predict the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, a strong Western ally, in power for about 30 years, will finish first but may not have the votes to form a government alone.Montenegro under the DPS and Djukanovic, broke with Serbia and Russia to join NATO in 2017, after declaring independence from Serbia in 2006.Internally, DPS and Djukanovic, have faced accusations of an autocratic rule, as well as of widespread graft and criminal links.Some 540,000 Montenegrins are eligible to vote in the Balkan country for the 81-seat Skupstina, or Assembly.