By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica
Montenegro will this weekend hold local elections in 12 municipalities. The upcoming elections are important because of the growing problems in the coalition between the two ruling parties at state level. For more than a year, the relationship between the Democratic Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party increasingly worsens and both parties will in the upcoming elections go out independently, with no major opportunities for future coalitions. The rest of the opposition wants a coalition with the Social Democrats, something that could be the prelude to early parliamentary elections.
On the domestic political scene the local elections in Montenegro are important for two reasons. The first is that the elections will be held in 12 municipalities, including the voters from the capital Podgorica, where a third of the total number of voters in Montenegro is located. After 18 months from the last parliamentary elections, these elections could provide enough reliable data on how much support are the parties currently enjoying. The second reason is more important, and it refers to the mutual relations of the ruling coalition at the state level. Democratic Party of Socialists and Social Democrats lately do not have a common view on the economy, fight against corruption and the way in which the Montenegrin society should prosper. The two parties have been in a coalition at the state level since 1997. The only issue in which they agree is the question whether Montenegro needs to become a full member of NATO.
The problems in the ruling coalition are seen by the opposition. The opposition will participate in the local elections in two columns. Democratic Front coalition, led by former candidate for president Miodrag Lekic, which brings together the center-right parties. They are quite similar by program with the Socialist People’s Party, which acts independently.
The most interest will be in Podgorica. Opinion polls show that it will be difficult for the Democratic Party of Socialists to win absolute power, and most likely the decision on who will make a new government in Podgorica will be determined by a junior member of the ruling coalition – the Social Democratic Party. This party in the upcoming elections in Podgorica comes together with the opposition parties – Positive Montenegro. It is expected that the two parties will win 10-15% of the vote, and that between the two blocks they will decide on a new government.
A Social Democrat coalition with the Democratic Party of Socialists is unlikely, but the problem is that the Social Democrats have an ideological problem with the rest of the opposition. The issue of the NATO integration. The rest of the opposition believes that Montenegro does not need to be a member of the NATO alliance, which does not correspond to Social Democrats.
If they overcome their ideological differences over NATO integration it is very likely that the Social Democratic Party will make a coalition with the opposition in Podgorica. DPS will on the other side try to win absolute majority. The possible coalition between the Social Democratic Party and the opposition at the local level would certainly mean that by the end of the year there will be new parliamentary elections.