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Long-standing Montenegrin leader Milo Djukanovic has suffered a shock defeat in the country’s parliamentary elections, as his pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) was ousted from power.
The opposition Democratic Front, which is led by two former prime ministers and is backed by the Serbian Orthodox Church, won the most votes in the Sunday poll, according to preliminary results.
The result could mark a major shift for the small Balkan nation, which has been under the rule of Mr Djukanovic and the DPS for almost 30 years.
The Democratic Front is led by Zdravko Krivokapic and Aleksa Becic, who both served as prime minister in the previous government. The party campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, promising to fight against nepotism and crime.
The Democratic Front is also backed by the Serbian Orthodox Church, which is a major influence in Montenegro's predominantly Orthodox population. The Church has been critical of Mr Djukanovic's pro-Western policies and has accused him of promoting a secular agenda.
The Democratic Front has said it will seek closer ties with Serbia, Montenegro's former partner in a union that was dissolved in 2006.
The result could have major implications for Montenegro's future, as the country seeks to join the European Union and NATO. Mr Djukanovic had been pushing for closer ties with the West, and his defeat could put this policy into reverse.
The election was seen as a vote on Mr Djukanovic’s long-running rule, and the result appears to be a rejection of his pro-Western policies. With the Democratic Front now in control, Montenegro is likely to take a more nationalist and pro-Serbia stance.
It is too early to tell how the result will affect Montenegro’s international relations, but it is sure to be a major shift in the geopolitics of the region.