In Montenegro, the twelfth parliamentary elections since the introduction of a multi-party system and the sixth since Montenegro gained its independence will take place on 11 June 2023, according to a proportional electoral system in which the entire country is one electoral unit. There are 542,468 eligible voters. At the elections 81 representatives will be elected to the Montenegro’s Parliament. The election threshold is 3%. A total of 15 political subjects will participate in the elections.
The IFIMES international institute published an analysis of the pre-election developments in Montenegro titled “2023 Parliamentary Elections in Montenegro: Young Voters Will Decide the Elections”
Election campaign peaceful, short and without old issues – politics as a spectacle
For the first time parliamentary elections in Montenegro are taking place without ethnic tensions, inflammatory rhetoric, raising of the issue of the Serb Orthodox Church. In fact the election campaign is about everyday-life issues and the future of Montenegro, which in addition to being a NATO member also aspires to become an EU member in the near future. There is a smaller number of outdoor rallies than in the previous election processes, while the number of election posters in public space is also smaller. The election campaign moved to the online space and social networks, which is explained by the fact that it is a more popular, cost-effective and efficient media to reach the younger populations of voters – politics as a spectacle.
The upcoming parliamentary elections do not have the status of “crucial” elections, because the regime of Milo Đukanović and the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has been defeated, as well as Đukanović personally at the recent presidential elections.
Montenegro has seen a significant increase in salaries and the standard of living, which resulted in a smaller interest in elections and politics. Political programs are still not fully focused on the citizens, but predominantly remain at the level of populism and declarative promises of achievement of a better standard of living and bigger economic opportunities. In the past 30 years, the DPS and its satellite coalition partners had an opportunity to implement what they are currently making promises about, but did not.
Analysts have assessed that there are no more “old issues” in the campaigns, but that the campaigns are dominated by the promises of political parties about future increases in salaries, pensions, social welfare support, subsidies for procurement of apartments and cars, allowances. However, the political parties are making such promises without specifying from which sources do they plan to fund all these additional expenditures or how they plan to realize their promises. Identity issues and ethnic issues are no longer in the center of the campaign. In fact, the promises are predominantly related to increases of salaries and social welfare support, as well as improved standard of living of the citizens. The election campaigns are centered on the leaders, who are in the focus and adorned with populist messages. Furthermore, the campaigns are conducted without mutual attacks in order to create a bigger space for possible postelection cooperation. The focus is on individual political leaders, who are also used as the main political brand, while the campaigns often boil down to personalization of policy- the political subject is recognized through its leader.
Montenegro to have a record tourist season
In 2022, Montenegro collected a bit under a billion Euros in revenues from tourism. It is expected that in 2023 it will collect record revenues from tourism, which will be at a level of one billion three hundred million Euros. While the tourist potential of Montenegro is at a level of around two billion Euros, it is necessary to undertake additional activities to achieve such a level of revenues.
Analysts believe that in Montenegro the tourist season should last throughout the year, instead of only two to three months. However, this would require additional investments in tourism, reduction of the so-called “gray economy” and strong development of traffic infrastructure. The current government has made major steps forward in the development of tourism in Montenegro. As a result, the annual income of two billion Euros could be achieved in the next couple of years, which would significantly improve the living standard of its citizens.
Ibrahimović leads Bosniak political renaissance
In the 33-year rule by Milo Đukanović and the DPS, minority communities, primarily the Bosniaks and Albanians, were the collateral damage and hostages of his regime. The DPS and its satellites, specifically the Social Democrats (SD) party and the Social-Democratic Party (SDP), were “focused” on minority communities and through the phenomenon of creation of “surplus” people they secured themselves a voting machinery.
People in Montenegro have freed themselves from fear of the DPS and have started to decide on their own about their future. In fact, Montenegro is experiencing a kind of political renaissance. Bosniaks are realizing their political renaissance through the Bosniak Party (BS) and its leader Ervin Ibrahimović, for whom they have waited for the past 30 years. Younger DPS members are using the same methods as their “teacher” Milo Đukanović. Namely, they continue to belittle and insult their political rivals and even make “friendly” threats. At these elections as well, the DPS preys on the Bosniak electorate. Nevertheless, it is expected that the Bosniak Party will achieve a historic result.
Analysts believe that after 30 years of oppression and humiliation the Bosniaks and Albanians have to give their final seal of approval of democratic changes, stop giving their trust and support to the DPS and its satellites of the SD and SDP, and build their future together with democratic political forces, which do not have an embarrassing past. Bosniaks and Albanians must stop voting for the DPS and in such a way put an end the multi-decade fraud by the DPS. For decades the rights of Bosniaks have been marginalized. Representation in institutions and sustainable economic development in the areas of Montenegro where Bosniaks live is of key importance and would help stop the outflow of population.
Prime Minister Abazović in contention for the position of NATO Secretary General
In the past three years Montenegrohas been in the center of regional and European developments. Successfully completed democratic changes, the reforms and integration into regional and European space as a reliable partner and ally have created opportunities for so far unimaginable economic and political development of this smallest country in the region with excellent geostrategic position.
The current Government of Montenegro has repositioned the role of Montenegro in regional and international relations. Furthermore, it is also the most transparent government in the region. The efforts by Prime Minister Dritan Abazović (URA) are directed at the youth and its future through resolution of housing issues and stopping of the outflow of population. The Government’s policy of “zero problems” with neighbors is also a major success.
Montenegro is a reliable NATO ally. This was reaffirmed by the highest NATO officials on the occasion of marking of the anniversary of Montenegro’s membership in the Alliance. NATO wishes to strengthen its position in the younger members of the Alliance and put an accent on the enlargement process. Therefore, NATO member countries are considering possible candidates for the next NATO Secretary General. Although the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia Andrej Plenković (HDZ) is mentioned as a possible candidate for the position of NATO Secretary General, Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dritan Abazović is also in contention for the position. Plenković has the “mortgage” of being the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which as a war time party carries the burden of wars, war crimes and judgments of international tribunals convicting HDZ members of gravest war crimes, including criminal joint enterprise against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, Plenković is also perceived as the “capo di banda” of the crime and corruption conducted by HDZ officials, as well as individuals and companies close to them.
Analysts believe it is important that Montenegro’s Prime Minister is in contention for the position of the NATO Secretary General, which is a significant recognition for Montenegro and the achievements made in the previous period of three years, in which historic democratic changes were made in a peaceful and democratic manner.
Victory of anti-Đukanović and anti-DPS block
Victory of the anti-Đukanović and anti-DPS block is expected at the upcoming early parliamentary election in Montenegro. It is also expected that democratic processes, which will increase the economic standard of citizens and ensure interethnic harmony, will continue, as well as the efforts to ensure that Montenegro becomes the next EU member.
Analysts also believe that the anti-Đukanović and anti-DPS block will be led by the newly established “Europe Now” Movement, which will include a coalition headed by Dritan Abazović and Aleksa Bečić (Aleksa and Dritan – Hrabro se broji /Bravery counts/-Democrats and URA), Nova srpska demokratija /New Serb Democracy/, and parties from the Bosniak, Albanian and Croat community. The political consensus must be ensured, as well as that the parties that had been the proponents of democratic changes in 2020 do not enter into a coalition with the DPS until the DPS is reformed and free from members who had a major role in crime and corruption – and even war crimes.