Montenegro: Young Voters To Decide The Elections – Analysis

The early parliamentary elections, scheduled to take place on 11 June 2023, will be the twelfth parliamentary elections since the introduction of a multi-party system and the sixth since Montenegro gained its independence. There are around 542 thousand eligible voters registered in the central electoral roll. Montenegro has a proportional electoral system in which the entire country constitutes one electoral unit. At the elections a total of 81 representatives will be elected to the Montenegro’s Parliament. The election threshold is 3%.

On 28 April 2023, the IFIMES international institute published an analysis of the developments in Montenegro titled “2023 Montenegro: End of Private State”?

At the parliamentary elections to be held on 11 June 2023 Montenegrin citizens will be able to choose among 15 election lists (parties and coalitions):

PRAVDA ZA SVE! /JUSTICE FOR ALL/– DR VLADIMIR LEPOSAVIĆ
PREOKRET ZA SIGURNU CRNU GORU /REVERSAL MOVEMENT/– SRĐAN PERIĆ
POKRET ZA PROMJENE /MOVEMENT FOR CHANGES/– PRVO CRNA GORA /MONTENEGRO FIRST/ – NEBOJŠA MEDOJEVIĆ – REFORME ZA SPAS ZEMLJE /REFORMS TO SAVE THE COUNTRY/
DA, MI MOŽEMO! – ZA GRAĐANSKU CRNU GORU! /YES, WE CAN! – FOR CIVIC MONTENEGRO/
HGI – NA PRAVOJ STRANI SVIJETA /ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE WORLD/
SDP – ZA NAŠU KUĆU /FOR OUR HOME/
ZAJEDNO! ZA BUDUĆNOST KOJA TI PRIPADA /TOGETHER! FOR THE FUTURE YOU SHOULD HAVE/ – DANIJEL ŽIVKOVIĆ (DPS, SD, DUA, LP)
ALBANSKI FORUM /ALBANIAN FORUM/ – NIK GJELOSHAJ –BESA ZA EVROPSKI RAZVOJ /PROMISE FOR EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT!
JASNO JE! /IT IS CLEAR!/ – BOŠNJAČKA STRANKA /BOSNIAK PARTY/– ERVIN IBRAHIMOVIĆ
EVROPA SAD /EUROPE NOW/– MILOJKO SPAJIĆ
ZA BUDUĆNOST CRNE GORE/FOR TEH FUTURE OF MONTENEGRO/ (Nova srpska demokratija /New Serb Democracy/, Demokratska narodna partija Crne Gore /Democratic People’s Party of Montenegro/, Radnička partija /Labour Party/)
ALEKSA AND DRITAN – HRABRO /BRAVELY/ (Demokratska Crna Gora /Democratic Montenegro/ and Građanski pokret URA /Civic Movement/)
“SNP – DEMOS – ZA TEBE /FOR YOU/
/ALBANIAN ALLIANCE/ – ALEANCA SHQIPTARE
NARODNA KOALICIJA /People’s Coalition/– SLOŽNO I TAČKA /Together and Full Stop/ – (Dejan Vukšić – Demohrišćanski pokret/Democratic-Christian Movement/; Marko Milačić – Prava Crna Gora /Real Montenegro/; Vladislav Dajković – Slobodna Crna Gora /Free Montenegro/; Dragica Perović – Demokratska srpska stranka /Democratic Serb Party/; Dr. Novica Stanić – Pokret za Pljevlja /Movement for Pljevlja/).

Ethnic diversity makes the country stronger
Montenegro is a multiethnic country. The current government is a unicum, because it was established by minority communities. It is headed by Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, President of the URA Civic Movement, which advocates a civic, European and environment-friendly Montenegro. This is the most inclusive Montenegrin government so far, which has contributed to the renaissance and affirmation of minority communities. Dritan Abazović (URA) together with his Coalition partner Aleksa Bečić (Montenegrin Democrats) concluded the “We count the courageous ideas of the young” (Brojimo hrabre ideje mladih) agreement with the youth, who need to be provided a better and more certain future. They also undertook to offer to the youth opportunities to take responsibility for leadership of the country.

Leadership of the country was taken over by the young Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, who is perceived as one of the most talented European leaders. Abazović offered to Montenegrin citizens a partnership and a new political concept of social agreement and a modus operandi that includes cooperation and creation of an inclusive society, unlike Milo Đukanović (DPS), who over the past 33 years had created a regime that had become alienated from the people and consisted of an oligarchy gathered around him. Namely, the regime was based on the same matrix that Vladimir Putin and his oligarchy use to rule Russia. Presidential elections were held on 2 April 2023 and Montenegro got a new president – Jakov Milatović from the Europe Now Movement (PES).

Analysts believe that ethnic diversity makes Montenegro stronger. Therefore, it is important to manage all its diversities, which is something that the Montenegrin Government headed by Prime Minister Abazović has successfully been doing over the past year. Therefore, it is important to draw a lesson from the case of Montenegro, so that never ever does one man (Milo Đukanović) be allowed to create a private state, that is allow a state become ownership of one man and one political party (DPS). Another very important element is that Montenegro had freed itself from fear of Đukanović’s (DPS) regime, which was unjust to minority communities. Therefore, the independent participation of the Bosniak Party (BS) led by Ervin Ibrahimović at the elections is encouraging, so that the Bosniaks can stop being the largest collateral damage of the independence of Montenegro and the DPS. Ibrahimović asserts that “There can be no prosperous and strong Montenegro without a strong Bosniak party or Bosniaks, equal to others in it.” An unavoidable question is whether at the upcoming elections Ibrahimović will be a herald of Bosniak political renaissance?

Return of Bar Port under sovereignity of the state of Montenegro
The fight against crime and corruption is in the focus of the current government. No-one in Montenegro should escape justice. The political parties that prove themselves in the fight against (organized) crime and corruption, decriminalization of the police and the judiciary and work in the interest of justice will win support at the parliamentary elections. Dismantling of the regime of Milo Đukanović and the DPS is the cornerstone for the future prosperity of the country. The future must be based on the rule of law.

The current Montenegrin Government has initiated activities and measures to return the Bar Port under the sovereignty of the state of Montenegro, because in a plethora of international reports the Bar Port has been detected and treated as a location through which different forms of international crime are committed. During Đukanović’s rule Montenegro became a hotbed of regional and international crime. Different reports indicated that Montenegro was a safe haven for crime, which was tolerated by the West under the pretext that fragile peace and seeming stability were more important than democracy and the rule of law. The roots of crime in Montenegro go back to the period of wars in the region and international sanctions. At the time unbreakable connections were established between political and mafia-criminal structures.

Following the establishment of Dritan Abazović-led government Montenegro has become no longer safe for (organized) crime, which has started to gradually withdraw from Montenegro and search for safer havens in some other countries in the region, particularly Serbia, which is faced with this problem now because the mafia-criminal structures aspire to take over the institutions of the country. At one point it suited Milo Đukanović to move a part of crimes and mafia to Serbia, as well as other countries in the region, in order to become a political factor in these countries.

Analysts believe that it is of quintessential importance to consolidate ownership of the Bar Port. The most optimum option would be to have the state of Montenegro become a 100% owner of the Bar Port, instead of the fragmentized ownership which includes some very shady co-owners, who are affiliated with crime and corruption and whose property is of dubious origin.

Budget rebalance due to a surplus
The 2023 budget of Montenegro is 2.9 billion Euros, or 160 million more than in 2022. Record appropriations for the social policy/welfare totaling 785 million Euros were reported. The budget guaranteed higher pensions, salaries for around 50 thousand employees in the state administration, police, military, fire departments and nonmedical staff in the healthcare system.

The revenues are higher by 225 million Euros and the rebalance of the budget was done for the first time due to the achieved surplus. Montenegro has the lowest annual inflation rate in the region, which is at the level of only 8.6% (Source: Eurostat). Record foreign investments amounting to more than one billion Euros were also reported. In 2023, budget revenues collected from three sources (profit of legal entities, value added tax, excise duties) will be half a billion higher than in 2019.

Return of Republic to Montenegro
Montenegro has a long and strong democratic tradition. Although Montenegro as a state has republican character, the world Republic does not feature in its official name. That is why it is necessary to correct the official name of Montenegro to the Republic of Montenegro and in such a way rectify the omission for which the then President of the Montenegrin Parliament Ranko Krivokapić (SDP) bears the biggest responsibility.

Democratic changes in Montenegro are an unstoppable and irreversible process. The new Government should strengthen its democratic capacity with the political forces that comprise the so-called anti-Đukanović and anti-DPS block. The elections will be decided by the young voters and their massive turnout at the elections. Montenegro must not be a victim of radical Montenegrin nationalism and Orthodox clericalism. The presidential elections have demonstrated that Montenegro is coming out of such a situation. Montenegro can progress only if the politicians on the Montenegrin political scene are acceptable also for other ethnic community, and not just for the community from which they originate. The continuation of the fight against crime and corruption will expose the role of Milo Đukanović and his oligarchy. Therefore, this will require a kind of lustration in Montenegro. The country is ready for the upcoming record tourist season, because revenues from tourism in the first quarter of 2023 amounted to 119 million Euros, while in 2022 they totaled 45 million Euros. Montenegro has also demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine, as no less than 5% of the population in Montenegro are the refugees from Ukraine, which is proportionally the highest percentage in Europe.

Public opinion poll
In the period from 10 May to 22 May 2023, the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) conducted a public opinion poll using the in-depth interview method on the territory of Montenegro. The standard deviation is +/-3. Control of 10% of the sample. Confidence level of 95%.

The three-step random sampling was applied and encompassed 1,208 respondents, Montenegrin citizens of legal age, both male and female. A total of 66 randomly selected respondents refused to participate in the poll, while 32 did not fit the respective sample. Demographic data was obtained from the Statistical Office of Montenegro- MONSTAT. The structure of respondents approximately reflects the structure of population from urban and non-urban areas. Ethnic, sex, age, social and education structure of respondents approximately reflects the population of Montenegro according to the provided MONSTAT data. We bring the responses to the most important and interesting questions.

Information about the sample:

Sampling: random, three-step
Sample size: 1,208 respondents (citizens of legal age, both male and female)
Methodology: field in-depth interview
Period: from 10 May to 22 May 2023
Confidence level: 95%
Control level: 10% of the sample
Standard deviation: +/-3
Territory: Montenegro
Note:
The public opinion poll did not take in to account support to political parties, because in the period when the public opinion poll was conducted it was still unknown which political actors will participate in the elections and in which form (independently/ in a coalition).

Do you find the decision on holding of early parliamentary elections on 11 June 2023 by the then President Milo Đukanović disputable?
-YES 69.7%

-NO 22.1%

– UNDECIDED 8.2%

Do you intend to participate at the early parliamentary elections on 11 June 2023?
– YES 74.2%

– NO 17.3%

– UNDECIDED 8.5%

Do you support Montenegro’s integration into the EU?
-YES 68.6%

-NO 22.1%

-UNDECIDED 9.3%

Has Montenegro’s membership in NATO fulfilled your expectations?
-YES 68.7%

-NO 22.1%

-UNDECIDED 9.2%

Is Montenegro moving in the right direction?
-YES 70.8%

-NO 21.0%

-UNDECIDED 8.2%

How would you assess the work of the current Government of Montenegro headed by Prime Minister Dritan Abazović?
-SUCCESSFUL 68.5%

-UNSUCCESSFUL 23.3%

– UNDECIDED 8.2%

Which political leader is most acceptable for all ethnic communities?
– Jakov Milatović 31.3%

– Dritan Abazović 30.4%

– Milo Đukanović 11.1%

– Andrija Mandić 8.2%

– Milojko Spajić 18.2%

– Others 0.8%

Should the fight against (organized) crime and corruption be a priority in the coming period?
– YES 68.40 %

– NO 20.80 %

– UNDECIDED 10.80 %

Do you support the work of the Special State Prosecutor’s Office of Montenegro headed by Chief Special Prosecutor Vladimir Novović?
– YES 63.20 %

– NO 21.40 %

– UNDECIDED 15.40 %

As a citizen of Montenegro do you have an optimistic outlook on the future?
– YES 66.30 %

– NO 25.60 %

– UNDECIDED 8.10 %

In your opinion, which neighboring country is the most friendly towards Montenegro?
– Serbia 40.10 %

– Bosnia and Herzegovina 30.80 %

– Kosovo 8.40 %

– Albania 9.70%

– Croatia 11.00%

Do you support reinstitution of the full name of the state – the Republic of Montenegro?
– YES 81.30 %

– NO 15.60 %

– UNDECIDED 3.10 %

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