February 8, 2010
It seems that Montenegrin citizens are slowly loosing faith in democratic elections and possibility for changes in their country. After 20 years of having democracy, election winner was always known before the election day. Therefore, Montenegro have never experienced shift of political parties through competitive elections. Until recently, voters in this small country have been famous for quite big turn-out and 70 – 80 % of citizens exercise their voting right on average. But, all that is rapidly changing. Local elections in Montenegrin historical capital – Cetinje have been boycotted by several major opposition parties, so only ruling coalition took part in it, along with two other minor parties who are also coalition partners to the ruling party in couple of other towns. Elections were boycoted by 55 % of voters, along with 10 % of non-valid votes of those who turned out. Several media reported that a lot of citizens were under pressure from the ruling party to go out and vote, so that’s how anlysts explain such a high number of non-valid votes. Alltogether, preliminary results show that 59% of citizens boycotted elections (with non-valid votes). Ruling parties – Democratic Pary of Socialists and Socialist Democratic Party won together almost 90% of those who voted. All serious political analyses show clear signs of one-party system in Montenegro, with several minor parties which in one way or another support the ruling party, and are only used to take part in elections, in order to create image of pluralism. In November 2009, all opposition parties have also boycotted local elections in town of Kotor, where almost 60% of voters didn’t turn out. Also, another 6,2% votes were not valid, while 4,94% of voters voted by mail. Both facts are showing big irregularity, especially on such a small turnout. Opposition claims that those are people who were litteraly „forced“ and „dragged“ to vote, since ruling regime uses already established measures of threats and pressures.
“Ruling regime cannot be beaten on the elections because they use all institutions of the state, complete public finances and all Government programs, in order to make their victory smooth”, said Nebojsa Medojevic, leader of Movement for Changes.
He stated earlier that “the key political problem in Montenegro is legally and constitutionally unsustainable position of Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who is officially accused for criminal charges at Italian courts, for distribution of cigarettes and money laundering. (read here his controversial political biography).
Consequence of this is reduce of Government capacities, corruption on highest levels, insufficient police capacities, politically controlled/dependent judicial branch, attacks on media and journalists, etc”.
Mr. Djukanovic has been a political leader in Montenegro for nearly 20 years, and passed a long raod since then (already served four terms as Prime Minister and one term as President of Montenegro. Now – 2009, he again became Prime Minister for the fifth time). He started as one of the leaders of the Communist Party, then a coalition partner of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia, and later switched from pro-Yugoslav option into leading independence movement of Montenegro. (see a video with english subtitles about his role in Balkan wars).
Nebojsa Medojevic, one of the opposition leaders announced to visit United States and speak with several important officials about neccessary political changes in Montenegro. He also emphasized that European Union and U.S.A. will have to stop any support to the ruling regime, and help montenegrin opposition to end the current system and organize first free and democratic elections in the country.
Originally, the idea of boycott was promoted by the prominent opposition politician Slavko Perovic, on his influental blog. Mr Perovic is leader of Liberal Alliance of Montenegro (first opposition party in the country), which has „frozen“ its political activities in March 2005, explaining that Montenegro lacks basic democratic principles which would ensure normal and independent functioning of an opposition party. Last election of March 2009, proved that opposition indeed doesn’t have even smallest opportunity to make any progress as ruling party won more than absolute majority again (in some towns more than 65%). Independent analysts believe that changes are impossible since ruling party holds the monopoly in all mechanisms of the State, which are remained habits from communist times. (read here the article “Why victory is impossible for the opposition“)
A lot of civil society leaders and independent analysts hope that European Union will seriously analyze the situation in Montenegro and help the country to make neccesary political changes.