Montenegro is a candidate country for the EU and has opened twenty-two chapters in the EU negotiations, while two have been closed. Montenegro’s future was further shaped by the NATO invite it received in December 2015. The invitation led to protests by pro-Serbian parties and their supporters. Further protests were fueled by the opposition alliance Democratic Front (DF) who voiced accusations of corruption, undemocratic practices and election fraud against Prime Minister Milo Djukovic (Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). Freedom of media continues to be a problem in Montenegro and in December 2015 the European Parliament’s Montenegro rapporteur condemned the attacks on activists and politicians by the media and urged in a resolution to continue OSCE-facilitated dialogue on improving ethical and professional standards in the media. The ruling coalition of the DPS, supported by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and several ethnic parties, has been unstable due to a conflict between the DPS and SDP. After a split within SDP – party leadership contest resulted in establishment of a new party that decided to continue supporting the ruling DPS – Djukanovic’s position was weakened. In addition, street protests have pressured the ruling DPS (in power since 1991) to including a part of the opposition in a caretaker government. In 2016 parliamentary elections DPS got the majority of votes, 41%. Although divided, the opposition has become stronger due to the reforms that go along with the EU integration process.
After World War II Montenegro became one of the six equal republics of the Yugaslav federation. After the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Montenegro remained in a union with Serbia as the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. On 21 May 2006 a referendum was held, were the majority of the Montenegrin population (55,5%) declared to be in favour of independence. With that the threshold of 55% as stippled by the EU was narrowly passed. Montenegro’s first parliamentary and presidential elections as an independent state as well as the parliamentary elections of October 2012 did not bring any big political changes.
Since 1998 SDP and DPS have ruled together. However, the coalition is becoming less stable. At the national level DPS blocked the adoption of a new electoral law. Failure to adopt this electoral law could lead to a serious political crisis. After the blockade, the main opposition party, Democratic Front Party, has left the parliament. They accused DPS for obstructing the Assembly and claimed that DPS needs to take responsibility for the political crisis.
The blockade of the DPS has deepened the distrust between the opposition and the government, which started on April 2013 with electoral fraud and misuse of state resources on the presidential elections, announced the Democratic Front. Next to the national level, friction at the local level is visible as well: during local elections in 2013 the SDP decided to work together with an opposition party, which is the first time since DPS and SDP rule together. This new alliance could cause friction within the national coalition. For the April 2014 local elections in the capital Podgorica SDP has formed a pre-election coalition with the new opposition ‘Positive’ party.
After the presidential elections in April 2013, won narrowly by DPS candidate Filip Vujanović, allegations of misuse of public resources were ever louder. Under pressure from the opposition, SDP, junior partner in the governing coalition, and Brussels, the process of so-called “restore confidence in the electoral process” started. 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.
The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 states that pervasive corruption, marked by nepotism, political favoritism, and weak controls over conflicts of interest in all branches of the government is one of the biggest problems in Montenegro. According to the Transparency International report on the perception of corruption, Montenegro stands at the 67th position in 2013 with the corruption perception index of 44. This is an improvement over last year, when Montenegro was ranked 75th, with the corruption perception index of 41. Although there are improvements, corruption stays an important issue in national politics.
In 2008, Montenegro applied for EU membership. In December 2011, the Council launched the accession process with a view to opening negotiations in June 2012, which started at the 29th. In October 2012, the European Commission has presented a Progress Report for Montenegro 2012. The European Commission concluded that the country has made further progress in establishing a functioning market economy, has improved its ability to take on the obligations of EU membership, and continues to sufficiently meet the political criteria for EU membership.
The first chapters that opened were 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights) and 24 (justice, freedom and security). Montenegro adopted Action Plans for both. Progress on these two chapters will determine the pace of the negotiation process as a whole. Currently seven chapters are opened, two of them: 25 (science and research) and 26 (education and culture) have been provisionally closed. In 2014 Montenegro is expected to focus on addressing the Opening Benchmarks set in chapters like competition policy, agriculture and rural development, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, and environment. These Opening Benchmarks include elements such as the elaboration of strategies and action plans, or legislative alignment.
For ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and their leader Milo Djukanovic, the EU accession could be less favourable. There will be more supervision on his work, powers will be transferred to the parliament and the rule of law will be strengthened. This will put pressure on the power basis of Djukanovic possibly resulting in charges against him, something we have seen happing in Croatia with former Prime Minister Ivo Sander.
Representation of women
Women remain significantly underrepresented in Montenegrin politics. In the Presidential election of 2008, no female candidates competed. The 2012 parliamentary elections provided for an improvement in women election participation with a total of 264 women stood as candidates, declared to be a significant increase from past elections. Currently there are 13 out of 81 female parliamentarians.
Parliamentary elections 2016
The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of the current Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic won the parliamentary elections in Montenegro on 16 October. DPS has been in power since 1991 and this time received 41% of the votes. Djukanovic labeled these elections as a choice between NATO and Russia. Out of 81 seats in the parliament DPS will now receive 36. The party of Social Democrats of Montenegro (SD), which has close ties with DPS, won two seats. The opposition parties have 39 seats in total and might try to form an anti-coalition. In particular, the pro-Serb and pro-Russian Democratic Front coalition (DF) won 18 seats, the Grand Kljuc Coalition has 9 seats, the centre-left Democratic Montenegro got 8 seats and Social Democratic Party (SDP) gained four seats. National minority parties, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian, also have four seats. The recent election results are weaker for DPS this time and it is expected to form a coalition with SD and national minorities. Coalition negotiations will be decisive for the future course of Montenegro: whether it will move closer to the West or turn back to its traditional partners Serbia and Russia. The voters turnout on 16 October was 71% despite the actively spread through the social media flashmob of ‘staying lazy’ on elections day.
Presidential elections 2013
In the 2013 Presidential elections incumbent President Filip Vujanović (Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS) was challenged by the opposition leader Miodrag Lekić. Lekić ran as an independent candidate but was widely supported by the largest opposition party, the Democratic Front (DF). On April 8, the electoral commission announced that Vujanović had won the elections with a landslide victory of only 52.2% of the votes. Lekić gained 48.8% of the total votes. Representatives for Lekić’ campaign announced that they would not recognize the result, and demanded a recount of the votes.
Several protesters in Podgorica demanded from that the Parliament to annul the vote within ten days and would call for new elections. The protesters said they would not accept the alleged fraud, and carried banners with slogans like “We defend our victory, we defend our Montenegro.”
The commission however said no major irregularities were reported during the elections, and added that voter turnout was 63.9%. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also said that the election ‘generally met OSCE requirements.’
DPS’s coalition partner, Social Democratic Party (SDP), called upon their voters not to vote or to cast a blank vote as they consider the candidacy of Vujanović as unconstitutional. This would be his third term as president, while only two terms are allowed in the constitution. DPS on the other hand, backed by the Constitutional Court claims that Vujanović first term does not count as it was during the State Union with Serbia.
The Presidential election is consistent with a slow but growing popularity of Miodrag Lekić and his Democratic Front. During the Parliamentary elections of 2012 the Democratic Front gained 23,8% of the votes.
Social Democratic Party (SDP)
Party leader: Ranko Krivokapić
The SDP was founded in June 1993 after a merger of the Social Democratic Reform Party and the Socialist Party of Montenegro. The party is firmly anti-war oriented and strongly opposed Milosević. Its main goal is the development of a “democratic internationally recognised and independent Montenegro that keeps abreast with Europe in order to provide better life, greater rights, freedoms and happiness for every person and for all people.” Over the years SDP remained a relatively small party (around 5 % of the votes), however, at the parliamentary elections in 2009 SDP succeeded in getting just over 11 % of the votes: 9 out of 81 seats in the parliament. The party managed to attract more young progressive voters and became the third biggest party in the country. Despite being a relatively small party, SDP managed to play a notable role in the political scene over the years. Although regarded by critics as the small supportive brother of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), at the local elections in 2010 SDP ran separately from DPS for the first time in a decade and got its best election result: around 15% of the votes. During the 2012 parliamentary elections, the DPS was a part of the European Montenegro coalition, together with the Democratic party of Socialists and the Liberal Party, which managed to secure 45.6 percent of the votes and thus 39 seats out of the 81 in parliament.
SDP President and Speaker of the Montenegro parliament Ranko Krivokapić is one of the founders of the party and has led the party ever since. SDP is member of Socialist International and associate party of Party of European Socialists (PES).
Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS)
Party leader: Milo Djukanović
The Democratic Party of Socialists, founded in 1991, is a successor to the former leading League of Communists. In 1992 the party supported the continued existence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Until October 1997 the party was led by former President of Montenegro Bulatovic (President from December 1990 – October 1997). In January 1998 Milovan Djukanović was sworn in as President of the Republic, after beating his former ally Bulatovic – who was removed from the party – in the presidential race. In the same year he was elected Chairman of DPS and has led the party ever since. With Djukanović becoming the president in 1998, DPS took more and more distance from Milosevic. The pro-Serbian, pro-Milosevic element then broke away in 1998 to form a new party, the Socialist People’s Party. At the fourth party congress in 2011, the DPS reinvented its main goals, fighting for a democratic, internationally recognised and independent state of Montenegro. DPS holds such an independent Montenegro is the main condition for its development and Europeanization. Furthermore, other leading issues in its platform are tolerance and improvement of life standards for all citizens of Montenegro.
The DPS has won every general election in Montenegro since the first multi-party elections of 1990. In June 2012, the DPS-led government celebrated the official start of membership talks with the EU. Additionally, the party strongly favours joining NATO, despite the lack of popular support for this idea. Nominally a social democrat party, opposition parties accuse it of pursuing neo-liberal economic policies and of disregarding welfare safeguards. It is said to be one of the best organized parties in the region, with approximately 100,000 members, more than fifth of the total number of registered voters in the country. Polls show that, despite the existence of ethnic minority parties in Montenegro, many members of those minorities, such as Bosniaks and Albanians, prefer to vote for the DPS.
In the 2012 elections, the party ran as the leader of the European Montenegro coalition, which won 45.6 percent of the votes and thus 39 seats out of the 81 in parliament. Its leader, Djukanović is said to once again take the post of Prime Minister.
DPS is member of Socialist International and associate party of Party of European Socialists (PES).
Socialist People’s Party (SNP)
Party leader: Srdjan Milić
The SNP is the main pro-Belgrade party in Montenegro. Former federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatović, considered as a puppet of Milosevic, was party leader until February 2001. He was replaced by Predrag Bulatović. The SNP formed a pre-election coalition with the NS and DSS and within this coalition (11 seats) holds 8 seats in the parliament. After the 10 September 2006 elections, which turned out a big disappointment for the SNP, Predrag Bulatovic announced his resignation. Srdjan Milic was elected new party leader on 26 November 2006.
In the 2012 elections it won the support of 10.6 percent of the voters and thus secured nine seats in parliament.
Movement for Change (PZP)
Leader: Nebojsa Medojević
The PZP was founded by top economists and academics in September 2002 as a group seeking to promote Montenegro's EU accession and acceleration of reforms. On 15 July 2006, Nebojsa Medojević, Chairman of the Movement for Change modified the statutes of his organisation in order to turn it into a political party under the name, Movement for Change (PZP). The new party that will be running in ten municipalities in the local elections would like to have a government of experts responsible for the revision of privatisation and the adoption of a new Constitution. The party is not only part of the opposition to the present government but it also rejects the present system based, in its opinion, on unstable and faulty foundations, corruption, theft and ignorance.
During the 2012 parliamentary elections, the PZP ran in a coalition with the New Serb Democracy, forming the Democratic Front coalition. Democratic Front won 23.8 percent of the votes and 20 mandates
New Serbian Democracy (NOVA)
Party leader: Andrija Mandić
New Serbian Democracy or NOVA, is one of the newest political parties in Montenegro, formed on 24 January 2009 as a merger between the Serb People's Party and the People's Socialist Party of Montenegro.
New Serb Democracy is led by Andrija Mandić, leader of the former Serb List. Mandić sought to transform the Serb List into a more civic-oriented party, in order to boost the party's coalition potential, and even the dropping the Serb prefix from the newly formed party's name was considered. This idea was met with strong resistance during the merger talks.
The party won 8 seats in the 2009 parliamentary elections. In 2012 it participated in the Democratic Front coalition which won 23.8 percent and 20 mandates.
Positive Montenegro (PCG)
Party leader: Darko Pajović
One of the newest parties in the country, it was formed in May 2012 under the leadership of former green activist Darko Pajovic with the aim of showcasing new people and ideas. Positive Montenegro presents itself as a new, civic, centre-left force with a “clean past”. It aims to focus on socio-economic issues. It further strives for a more moderate rhetoric than some of the older parties, like the Movement for Changes, PzP, and it steers clear of quarrels over issues of national identity. The party advocates a socially responsible state, arguing for tight controls of natural resources and help for those who are struggling with the market economy.
It ran independently in the 2012 election and won 8.9 percent support and reserved seven seats in parliament.
The Bosniak Party (BS)
Party leader: Rafet Husović
Founded in 2006 to protect the interests of the Bosniak [Muslim] minority, which makes up 7.7 percent of the population, according to the 2003 census, it was formed out of a merger of four small parties: the International Democratic Union, the Party For Democratic Action, the Democratic Alliance of Bosniaks and the Party of National Equality. The party lent the DPS-led government significant support in the independence referendum of 2006. Since the Bosniak minority is concentrated in certain areas of the country, the party favours devolving powers to regions.
The BS has decided to run in the 2012 general election independently, winning 4.17 percent and three seats in parliament. It is said to provide majority support to the European Montenegro coalition.
The Democratic Union of Albanians (DUA)
Party leader: Ferhat Dinosa
Led by Ferhat Dinosa, it is one of four parties that aim to protect the rights of the country’s ethnic Albanian minority who make up 5,03 per cent of the population according to the 2003 census. It has one seat in parliament. The other three parties are Forca, the Democratic League of Montenegro and the Albanian Alternative. Each also has one seat in the Skupstina.
Liberal Party of Montenegro (LPCG)
Party leader: Andrija Popović
The Liberal Party of Montenegro was founded in 2004. It describes itself as a party that has been continually anti-war, liberal and standing for the idea of statehood since the beginning of the 1990s. The party was part of the European Montenegro coalition at the 2012 general elections and has one seat in the parliament.
Prime Minister of Montenegro
Milo Djukanović was born on 15 February 1962 in Nikšić. He graduated from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Montenegro, Podgorica.
In 1979, while still in high school, Djukanović joined the Yugoslav Communist League. By 1986 he was a presidency member of the Socialist Youth Alliance's (SSO) Montenegrin branch as well as the presidency member of its federal-level parent organisation. As a member of the party’s various youth bodies he earned the nickname Britva ('Straight razor') for his direct, fiery and forceful rhetoric. Progressing steadily up the party ladder, by mid-1989 Djukanović became a member of the League’s highest decision making body, the Central Committee. He became the Secretary of the Presidency of the League of Communists of Montenegro, a post he held until the parties’ transformation into Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).
In 1991 he was elected prime minister, becoming the youngest PM in Europe. On January 15, 1998 he was sworn in as President of the Republic, after winning the presidential elections. In the same year he was elected Chairman of DPS. Having led the Democratic Coalition for a European Montenegro to victory in the parliamentary election in October 2002, he was nominated PM Designate of Montenegro. On January 8 he was elected PM for his fourth term. In May 2006 he led the Block for Independent Montenegro at a referendum in which 55.5% voted in favour of Montenegrin independence. In the 2006 elections his Coalition for a European Montenegro (DPS and Social Democratic Party, SDP) won an absolute majority.
Although he chose to step down in late 2006, he remained president of DPS. He returned to office as PM after his coalition won the 2009 early elections with an absolute majority, securing him a sixth term in office.
In July 2003, the public prosecutor's office in Naples linked Djukanović with an organised crime network, mainly related to tobacco smuggling during the UN embargo on Yugoslavia. Djukanović denied the allegations as a "loathsome political trick", aimed at criminalising him and his country. The Italian authorities dropped all charges against him in April 2009.
In December 2010 Djukanović for the second time resigned his post as PM, saying he would still play an important role in the ruling DPS. Announcing his resignation he said "the conditions have been created for him to step down". However, he continued to lead the DPS during the 2012 parliamentary elections, securing a win for his party, and returned as a prime minister with the new cabinet in 2012.
Milo Djukanovic is married and has one son.
President of Montenegro
Filip Vujanović was born on 1 September 1954 in Belgrade. After he graduated from the University of Belgrade’s Law School, he worked in one of the city’s Municipal Courts, and later as an assistant at the Belgrade District Court. In 1981 he moved to Podgorica (at that time Titograd), working as a secretary and a lawyer at the District Court.
In 1993 Vujanović joined the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and became Minister of Justice upon the invitation of then Montenegrin federal President Momir Bulatović. From 1996 to 1998 he was Interior Minister. During the 1997 DPS leadership conflict, Vujanović initially declared neutrality. He eventually sided with Djukanović who won the presidential elections in 1998.
In February 1998 Djukanović appointed Vujanović as the first Prime Minister of Montenegro, which was at the time still part of Yugoslavia. In November 2002, he became Speaker of the Montenegrin parliament. Vujanović ran in the December 2002 presidential elections and won a landslide victory, securing 86% of the votes. However, the election was ruled invalid as the turnout was less than 50%. The elections were held again in February 2003, with Vujanović winning 81% of the vote, but again turnout was below 50%. The elections were held for a third time in May, with the minimum turnout rule abolished, and Vujanović winning again with 63% of the vote. He became president on 19 May 2003. President Vujanović was a supporter of the Montenegro independence referendum, though PM Djukanović was much more involved in the referendum campaign. Vujanović’ messages often focused on Montenegro’s and Serbia’s ability to have a peaceful separation and post-independence cooperation.
At the 2008 presidential election, Vujanović ran for the second presidential term, and secured another five years in office in the first election round, winning 51.89% vote.
Filip Vujanović is married and has three children.
Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro, leader of the Social Democratic Party
Ranko Krivokapić was born on 17 August 1961 in Kotor. He graduated from the Faculty of Law in Belgrade. In the late 1980s he became politically active and became a member of the presidency of Reform Forces of Yugoslavia, headed by the last Prime Minister of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Ante Marković.
He was elected a representative in the Montenegrin Parliament six times, the first time in 1989. Furthermore, Krivokapić was Montenegrin representative to the Parliament of Yugoslavia from 1993 to 1997. From 2003 to 2006, Krivokapić served as the Speaker of Parliament of Montenegro within the state union of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG). Following the ratification of an independence referendum held in 2006, he became the Speaker of Montenegro’s parliament.
Krivokapić is leader of the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDP), a coalition partner of the Democratic Party of Socialists in the current government. Furthermore, he was one of the founders of the SDP in 1990.
Ranko Krivokapić has two children.
European Commission Serbia and Montenegro - Stabilisation and Association Report 2004
European Union’s external relation’s with Serbia and Montenegro
Commission Report 2012
UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
War Crimes Tribunal Watch
Institute for War and Peace Reporting on the Tribunal