Montenegro: Reforms slowed due to political polarization

Montenegro: Reforms slowed due to political polarization

“The deep polarization between the new ruling majority and the opposition lasted during 2020 and intensified in the post-election period. “Heated relations and mistrust have encouraged frequent escalations and further exacerbated political divisions, including within the ruling majority,” the Montenegro Progress Report said.

It points out that disagreements between the executive and the legislature have slowed reform work.

As for electoral reform, the report concludes that progress has been slow due to initial delays and periodic boycotts.

“Parliament dismissed the president of the State Election Commission (SEC) in June 2021, the appointment of a new president is still pending in parliament. Continuous efforts are needed to increase the professionalism, transparency and accountability of the SEC “, it is stated in the document in which TVCG had an insight.

It is further stated that, despite the inter-party agreement that all local elections be held on the same day, the legal framework still provides for their gradual implementation, leading to an almost constant pre-election campaign at the national and local levels.

It remains to provide a credible, independent and effective institutional response to the so-called “envelope affair”.

The report also emphasizes that the lack of constructive engagement of all parliamentary actors prevented meaningful political dialogue, further polarizing the political landscape.

It is added that the ruling majority often initiated or passed laws under the accelerated procedure, without the necessary public consultations and without proper consideration of the conditions for EU accession.

It is stated that the composition of the current parliament is “unprecedented” in the history of Montenegro.

“So far, the parliament has not been able to provide the required 2/3 majority for important appointments of judges, so the key functions of the judicial system are still filled on the basis of acting ministers,” the report notes.

The report states that Montenegro is moderately prepared to fight organized crime.

It is stated that the number of organized crime cases that have been investigated and processed has continued to grow, and the number of cases that have been adjudicated in the courts has almost tripled.

International police co-operation is well established and continues to yield results, with unprecedented drug seizures abroad.

However, the capacity to address tobacco smuggling and money laundering is not yet at the expected level. It is said that Montenegro still has to address some systemic shortcomings in its criminal justice system, including the way organized crime cases are dealt with in the courts.

The document points out that despite the more proactive approach of the Anti-Corruption Agency, corruption remains widespread in many areas and is a cause for concern.

“There is a need for strong political will to effectively address this issue, as well as a strong criminal justice response to high-level corruption,” the document said.