By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica
The Parliament of Montenegro did not provide the two-thirds support required for the change of the electoral law. The document was not supported by MPs from the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists as well as Mps from the national minorities parties. Today’s vote in parliament for changing the legislation, whose adoption was part of the action plan for negotiating chapter 23 with the EU, proved fruitless. Attempts to amend the electoral legislation in Montenegro have been going on for almost two years now. It all started with the publication of transcripts from meetings of the party organ of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists.
Transcripts from meetings of the ruling party in which we recognize the elements of abuse of public funds for party purposes, the media has dubbed as affair “SNIMAK”. Opposition parties claimed to have evidence for what they claimed in previous years.
They explained that they have finally proven that the ruling DPS party won the election by misusing public funds. They argued that the social benefits such as employment and partisan use of money from the public funds were used in such a way as to buy votes for DPS. These claims had never been officially proven. Apart from a few party officials in lower positions, against whom criminal charges were filed, no one else has been before the court. The charges have been reexamined after Brussels began to take an interest in the “SNIMAK” affair. Representatives of the European Commission insisted that the entire case be examined from scratch.
After the presidential elections on April 2013 of which the Democratic Party of Socialists, of Filip Vujanović, narrowly won, allegations of misuse of public resources were ever louder. Under pressure from the opposition, the junior partner in the governing coalition of the Social Democratic Party and Brussels, started the process of so-called “restore confidence in the electoral process.” An inquiry team was founded in which all the parties were represented, in addition to the representatives from the NGO sector, while Brussels also provided with technical assistance.
After eight months of work, the seven laws relating to the electoral process are relatively compliant. The changes are supported by all parties except the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists. The opposition claimed to have drafted a legislation that will prevent the misuse of public resources. The negotiation and adoption of the electoral law was backed by Brussels. Unofficial information showed that the Montenegro won the opening of chapters 23 and 24 in the negotiations with the European Union because of promises that the law will be passed in Parliament.
After two days of voting, negotiation and calculation, the political parties in Parliament have not yet come to an agreement. The smaller members of the ruling coalition with the Social Democratic Party’s opposition parties adopted six laws but for the most important -“election law” they couldn’t provide 2/3 of parliamentary support. DPS, along with the national parties of minorities, has obstructed the adoption of the law, and thus the law did not receive enough support. The first reactions after the vote were largely political. DPS explained that they couldn’t support the Law because some parts of it aren’t in accordance with the Constitution. The minority ethnic parties gave similar reasons.
The opposition was alone. One of the parties in the opposition bloc, the Socialist People’s Party, announced that they would abstain from voting, which led to accusations that they reached an agreement with DPS.
Failure to adopt the electoral law could lead to a serious political crisis. Now we expect reaction from Brussels, since with its failure to adopt the electoral law, Montenegro did not fulfill the obligations it had undertaken.