Politics in Montenegro

Multiparty elections of 1990
B

Momir Bulatović (Medija Cenat Beograd)

D

Milo Dukanovic (Youtube)

In the 1990 multiparty elections the League of Communists won a two-thirds majority in the Republic's parliament, and its head, Momir Bulatović, won 76% of the vote for President. Milo Đukanović became Prime Minister. The League was renamed the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) in June 1991.

After Croatia and Slovenia seceded followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, Montenegrins voted to join the new Federal Yugoslavia with Serbia.

Montenegro aligned with Serbia during 1991-95 wars

Incumbent President and DPS head Bulatović defeated Nikola Kostić, the former Montenegro representative on the Yugoslav eight-member presidency in the 1992 presidential elections. DPS also won 46 seats in the national assembly, and Đukanović returned as prime minister. DPS was closely aligned with the Milošević regime during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Montenegrin forces took part in the war in Croatia, participating in attacks on the southern Dalmatian coast, including Dubrovnik. Montenegro also served as a refuge for Serbian refugees from Croatia.

Milo Đukanović

As Serbia became an international pariah in the mid-1990s, Đukanović distanced Montenegro (and himself) from Milošević. Among other gestures towards the West, he floated the idea of allowing international use of the Montenegrin ports for support of operations in Bosnia. In1997 he ousted Bulatović as DPS party head, and became its candidate for president. He narrowly defeated Bulatović running as an independent by 51% to 49%.

DPS agenda greater autonomy from Serbia

In 1998, Bulatović created the Socialist People's Party (SNP). In Parliamentary elections, Đukanović's DPS won 30 seats, while Bulatović's SNP won 29. Subsequently, Bulatović became prime minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, reaffirming his commitment to the close Serbia-Montenegro relationship.

In late 1999, Đukanović took bold steps and introduced the German Mark as legal tender alongside the Yugoslav Dinar to combat inflation, and announced Montenegrin control over the airports.

Pathway to independence not clear

In the 2001 parliamentary elections, the DPS-led coalition "Victory for Montenegro" won 36 seats, while the SNP-led opposition "United for Yugoslavia" won 33 seats. The Liberal Party got six seats and two Albanian parties got one seat each in the 77-seat parliament.

2002 municipal and parliamentary elections
United States Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew D. Leistikow

Filip Vujanović  (U.S. Navy/Matthew D. Leistikow) 

The DPS and its coalition partners made gains in the 2002 municipal elections, seen as supportive of President Đukanović .

The OSCE termed the elections as generally in line with OSCE standards.

The parliamentary elections gave the DPS and its Social Democratic Party partner an outright majority.  Đukanović stepped down as President to become Prime Minister, becoming a vocal advocate for independence. Filip Vujanović, a Đukanović supporter, was elected President.

"Serbia and Montenegro" Agreement

In 2003, the Yugoslav Federal Parliament adopted the Constitutional Charter for the new State of Serbia and Montenegro, delaying a referendum for three years. Vujanović and Đukanović pushed for independence.

Montenegro chooses independence in 2006

In the 2006 referendum 55.6% of Montenegrins voted for independence. There was an 86.5% voter turnout. The pro-independence campaign barely crossed the 55 percent threshold. The OSCE stated that the referendum was conducted in accordance with international standards.

Đukanović steps down as prime minister in 2006 and returns in 2008

Towards the end of 2006, Đukanović left government, but remained as DPS leader. Zeljko Sturanović succeeded him as prime minister. Đukanović returned as prime minister in 2008 after Sturanović resigned due to illness.

2008 presidential elections

Incumbent President Vujanović of the DPS won reelection in the first round with 51.4% of the vote. Runners-up Andrija Mandić of the Serb List won 20.4%, Nebojsa Medojević of the Movement for Changes won 15.7%, and Srđan Milić of the Socialist People’s Party won 12.8%.

The OSCE assessed that nearly all aspects of Montenegro’s first post-independence presidential election were in line with international standards. Areas for improvement were the continued blurring of state and party structures, and financial transparency.

Early 2009 parliamentary elections

Parliament voted to hold early elections. The government insisted early elections were necessary due to the timeframe in which to complete tasks under the EU Association Agreement. The opposition asserted, however, that the government wanted to gain a mandate before the global economic crisis hit Montenegro.

Prime Minister Đukanović’s DPS-led “For a European Montenegro” coalition won 49 of parliament’s 81 seats. The other seats went to the opposition SNP (15), the New Serbian Democracy Party (8), and the Movement for Change (5). The four Albanian ethnic parties each took one seat.

The OSCE International Election Observation Mission reported that the parliamentary elections met almost all international commitments and standards, but the process again underscored the need for further democratic development. The observers evaluated the voting and counting process as being highly positive, with very few incidents reported. The observers noted, however, that lack of public confidence remained a key challenge, as frequent allegations of electoral fraud and the blurring of state and party structures created a negative atmosphere among many voters. Other challenges include the need to harmonize and reform the electoral framework, lack of adequate legal redress, and insufficient critical reporting by most broadcast media.

2013 presidential election
Incumbent Vujanovic wins close race
Miodrag Lekic (Milorad Lekic website)

Miodrag Lekic (Milorad Lekic website)

Vujanovic was declared winner of the April 7 presidential election by the State Election Commission, with 51.21% of the vote, compared to independent candidate (supported by most opposition parties) Miodrag Lekic with 48.76% of the vote.  Turnout was almost 64%.  Lekic first disputed the outcome and filed a complaint with the Election Commission, but finally went along with the results. 

The OSCE-led International Election Observation Mission's statement of preliminary findings termed that the election professionally and efficiently administered, but allegations of misuse of state resources and blurring of the line between state activities and candidate campaigning were at odds with OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards.

OSCE
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis (l) with President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović, Podgorica, 5 July 2011. (OSCE archive)

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis (l) with President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović, Podgorica, 5 July 2011. (OSCE)

The OSCE established a Mission to Montenegro in 2006. The mission operates under a general mandate to promote the implementation of OSCE principles and commitments in cooperation with the government and local NGOs and institutions.

EU, COE, NATO

Montenegro signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU and joined the Council of Europe in 2007. Montenegro submitted its application for EU candidate status in 2008. Montenegro’s EU application stalled in 2009, as EU members split over whether to continue enlargement during the current economic situation. Montenegro secured its candidate status in 2010.

NATO Secretary General, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomes the Prime minister of Montenegro, Mr Igor Luksic. (NATO)

NATO Secretary General, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomes the Prime minister of Montenegro, Mr Igor Luksic, March 2012. (NATO)

The 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit welcomed Montenegro’s decision to develop an Individual Partnership Action Plan and invited the country to begin an intensified dialogue for membership. In 2009, Montenegro was granted a Membership Action Plan, the final step in an application for membership in the organization. Montenegro has deployed a small contingent to Afghanistan since 2010, and participates in UN peacekeeping missions.