Why the failure of the opposition is bad for democracy in Montenegro

Montenegro held local elections in most municipalities yesterday (14 out of 21). Unlike in previous local elections which were observed by international organizations and commented on by ICG and other international think tanks, these got very little attention. This is, I guess, good news for Montenegro. Local elections are not a test of two conflicting political projects at a time of crisis.

However, the resounding victory of DPS and its partners in most (12) municipalities is a negative development. It is less that the opposition is a beacon of democracy and neither has DPS rule been disastrous. For the first time, the opposition was able to unify and run on a joint platform–a lot easier at the local level then at national elections. This new-found unity among the notoriously divided and dividing opposition was seen as a real opportunity to take control of a number of cities, including Podgorica. The results do give DPS a greater lead than it gained four years ago–not long after the referendum. In Podgorica, the opposition came close and the ruling Socialists cannot form a coalition with its long-time side kick SDP which ran separately from DPS in Podgorica.  The DPS candidate for Podgorica, Miomir Mugoša recently made headlines for beating up a journalist.

The real problem arising from the election is the continued dominance of the DPS, having governed since 1990 (and to be more precise since 1945), Montenegro continues to be a dominant party system with little opportunity for a change of government through elections. Needless to say, this is not good for any democracy, irrespective of the behavior of the dominant party. In Montenegro, were the dominant party and the state are particularly closely interwoven, a normal change of government would do the country some good. In addition, bringing the opposition together and into power would also help to heal the divide in the country and be an encouragement for opposition to work within the status quo and not play the Serb card (which in fact seems to be more frequently evoked by DPS to scare voters). At the moment it would seem that change to the government in Montenegro is once more most likely to come from within the DPS through a split as in 1997 rather than through a loss of power in elections.

2 Responses to Why the failure of the opposition is bad for democracy in Montenegro

  1. Stefan Popovic says:

    First, interesting article and even more interesting blog. I’ll pay more attention to it in the future. Also, it’s not too late to comment on this, since time in MNE has stop long time ago, so everything is actual headline.

    It’s interesting that you note that Berlin wall has never fall in Montenegro (1945, 1990, 2010). None of the diplomats from your part of the world is capable to realize the same. At least, not officially. To Leopold Maurer, Montenegro is a democratic country (the same party rule for 20 years???), while the same country shows a great deal of progress to Ms. Ashton (beating up and killing the journalists, 20 years of despotic ruling???).

    To reveal the paradox a bit more, the ruling party, the party that promote free market capitalism and “regulation guillotine” is called Democratic party of Socialists. Even the worst among your students will note the difference between two concepts. However, that’s not the case with Montenegrin government. If someone aside point on this, he could easily be proclaimed as an enemy of the “freshly gained Montenegrin independence” and a supporter of great Serbia. Terrorists formula works like a clockwork, obviously…

    Regarding the elections, they have been fraud ever since DPS came into power. The ex Liberal Alliance leader (Slavko Perovic), now living abroad, called on boycott in order to make DPS/Berlin wall collapse. However, opposition have failed to note this. Joint action was a proposal on last state election (by the same man), but the “opposition” failed to realize this in time as well. It seems that opposition is one elections late with ideas constantly. Moreover, it is mystery how you, living in UK, noted that the candidate for Capital’s mayor has been beating up journalist month earlier, but during the election days, opposition failed to evoke that event. Not even with a single word. Sound like a weapon too good not to be used in such important battle? Furthermore, the opposition (1996) have made a joint action and they won the elections. Due to the media control and secret service methods (inherited from the past) the rulers has turned the elections result upside down. DPS publicly admitted this years later.

    The question is – is there opposition in Montenegro? It looks to me rather like a theater with a very boring play, in which some play the ruling party and others are “opposition”. I’m simply reluctant to believe that opposition is so incapable to see the obvious things and to make so many wrong moves. An opposite taught is more or less killed in this place. It came down to a few individuals that spoke out every once in a while, which in not sufficient for real change.

  2. Pingback: Who won the Montenegrin elections? « Florian Bieber

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