Montenegro: Electoral victory comes with great responsibility

Montenegro: Electoral victory comes with great responsibility

by Mladen Dragojlović

When the winners of the elections in Montenegro wake up from the euphoria after removing the party whose leader has been in power for almost 30 years, they will have to get down to serious business. Only then will it become evident whether they are capable of fighting the legacy of Milo Đukanović and whether they even have a person who will lead the politics of Montenegro with quality.

The fact is that Milo Đukanović will remain the president of the state, provided that he does not resign (and that will be difficult), until 2023. It will not be the first time in this region that the President of the state and the Prime Minister come from opposed political options. Such is the case even today, for example in Croatia, and everything works just fine.

According to the announcements of the coalition partners who will form the new parliamentary majority, the first task of the new Parliament will be to repeal the Law on Freedom of Religion, which will prove to be a big mistake. Namely, that law was evaluated positively by the Venice Commission, but with minor corrections. Consequently, if the law is repealed, the new government will go directly against the Commission, which is a body of the Council of Europe. A better choice would be to find another solution in the existing law that woulf satisfy all legally recognized parties.

Another problem that the coalition will face immediately after the formation of the government lies in the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for the economy, health and relations in society. What the DPS government has been doing so far has been politicized, especially in the context of banning Serbian citizens from entering Montenegro. The end of the season is here and the people who live from renting out apartments and rooms have not earned the planned amount they need for a normal life until next season. From the beginning of next year, the government will have to count on large expenditures from the budget or it will face the dissatisfaction of those who elected them.

The third issue refers to the continuation of the European path, on which Montenegro has reached quite high. All chapters are open and the negotiation process will now have to endure a change in the Montenegrin team. How good the change will be, depends on the agreement of the coalition partners on the position of the negotiators. This will, in a way, be the first test of the stability of the coalition, as that person will have to have the widest possible support in order for the reforms on the way to the EU to pass through Parliament. If no agreement is reached and the team and the negotiator work without the support of the parliament, the EU path will definitely reach a deadlock.

It should not be forgotten that Montenegro is a member of NATO and has great obligations regarding the Alliance. First, it participates in military missions, while also bearing the obligation to allocate a certain amount from the budget and procure weapons from the member countries of the Alliance. On the other hand, the conflict between the NATO membership and the Russophile wishes of the new government will have to be resolved, but currently no one knows how.

The coalition’s thin victory over Đukanović’s forces also means that the president of Montenegro will have three years to destroy the image of the newly formed government as “good guys”. It should be clearly stated that, individually, Đukanović’s DPS is the winner in the elections! This fact poses before the government the difficult task of winning more votes until the next presidential elections, in which they should remove Đukanović from power and thus end that part of the country’s history.

The dispute with the Serbian Orthodox Church was not the reason why voters cast their votes for opposition parties. That dispute was just the last nail in the coffin of Đukanović’s party rule, which existed in the last decade only to cover up the criminal activities of the regime and the president himself.

If the coalition fails to remove him from the ruling position in three years, he will most likely go unpunished for all criminal activities. And this will have a great impact not only upon Montenegro, but also on Italy and Malta. /ibna