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On August 30th, Montenegro went into general elections, which has come following months of conflicts about national identity and religious values. The COVID-19 pandemic also didn’t help.
Eleven coalition lists and political parties ran for the parliament and elections are being monitored by 21 international observers and monitors from local NGOs.
The Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, has held power for the past three decades, leading Montenegro through the breakup of federal Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the demise of an almost century-old state union with Serbia in 2006.
As of non-final count from the morning on August 31st, the pro-Western DPS of President Milo Djukanovic is leading with 34.7% of the vote, followed by the opposition For the Future of Montenegro alliance with 33.1%.
The opposition alliance is a formally pro-Serbia and pro-Russian party, but rather it seeks to provide independent foreign and internal policies, not based on orders from ‘Euro-Atlantic partners’.
It should be mentioned that the “Last European Dictator” as they call Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, isn’t exactly that, as Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has been leading Montenegro for 30 years, and much by the same means that Lukashenko is accused by in MSM.
The only difference is that Djukanovic is pro-Western, and worked toward integration into the EU and NATO, and as such there is no way that he can be even remotely considered a tyrant according to the mainstream narrative.
Montenegro’s longstanding President Milo Djukanovic said that his Democratic Party of Socialists has 40 MPs in Montenegrin parliament with their traditional partners, adding that votes are still being counted.
“Struggling for a majority in parliament is going on, and then we will wait for the results of State Electoral Commission,” he said.
The total MPs in Montenegro’s parliament sits at 81, so he is 1 short of having an actual majority.
Three opposition parties, however, are set to win at least 41 seats, according to preliminary counts.
Leading up to the election, the biggest dispute was related to the law on ‘religious rights’ introduced in late 2019 that is staunchly opposed by the influential Serbian Orthodox Church.
The church is concerned the law allows the state to confiscate its property as a prelude to setting up a separate church. This open secret has been denied by the government.
The Serbian Orthodox Church remains Montenegro’s largest religious institution and a third of its population identify as Serb. Nonetheless, the government prefers to blame Serbia and Russia for the developing crisis.
Ljubomir Filipovic, a policy analyst and former mayor of Budva, said the protests held in the country “all have to do with the church, with inter-ethnic tensions, with the divisive media campaign coming from Serbia, Russia and [Bosnia’s Serb-run entity] Republika Srpska in the last couple of months.”
Of course, according to Djukanovic’s Party and media structures loyal to it, a win for the opposition would mean that Montenegro’s foreign policy would immediately mean the country has become a Belgrade or Moscow puppet.
“We would have a problem with the recognition of Kosovo, with our NATO membership and of course the very existence of the independent state of Montenegro is in question,” Filipovic said.
“Not only once, the main parties in the opposition have questioned the rationale for Montenegrin independence.”
By all means it appears that the pro-Western DPS would not have the necessary majority, but it is interesting to track how it would be spun by MSM and Montenegro’s foreign allies that the elections, which were heavily monitored by all sides were, (potentially), not as honest as initially advertised.
The stage is set, more or less, prior to the elections there were car rallies and protesters waving Serbian flags.
Djukanovic, who is no tyrant, but rather a “custodian of stability” (at least according to the NATO and EU), has used the chance to stoke fears of threats to Montenegro’s sovereignty.
The opposition parties are “the political infantry of Greater Serbia nationalism,” he said recently, referring to a Serb ultra-nationalist dream to unite all parts of the Balkans to form a Greater Serbia.
Zdravko Krivokapic, leader of the For the Future of Montenegro alliance, said that he expected “a new day for Montenegro which will take a different path”.
Krivokapic said his grouping wants to unite a divided nation and “distribute this wealth we have equally for all”.
Of course, the vote has some questionable points, with more than 770 irregularities reported.
The Centre for Democratic Transition, CDT, recorded accusations of vote buying and political pressure on voters. The Centre for Monitoring and Research, CEMI, said that in polling stations in the capital Podgorica and in the town of Rozaje, voters were caught photographing their ballots.
Leading up to the elections, on August 23rd, a large rally took place with Orthodox faithful protesting against the “persecution of the Serbian Orthodox Church.”
Zdravko Krivokapic addressed the crowd, and despite authorities’ best attempts, he said that “Our victory is inevitable; we are righting for the future of all citizens of Montenegro, and August 30 will be our victory day,” he told the crowd.
“Let prayer unite us,” he said, after which the crowd prayed the Lord’s Prayer together.
Police opened criminal cases against Krivokapic, five priests and two other citizens for violating the ban on mass gatherings due to the pandemic. This was an expected move, which went fully in the framework of Djukanovic’s policy towards the opposition and the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Despite the public rhetoric about some constructive position towards the situation, the Djukanovic has been employing a variety of censorship technics designed to suppress any resistance to its course. It labels the opponents as foreign puppets (Serbian or Russian) and claim that they want to divert the ‘European course’ of Montenegro. As a part of these efforts, the government has been conducting its wide-scale campaign against the Serbian Orthodox Church, as one of the cornerstones of the conservative Montenegrin society that does not support the ongoing neo-liberal transition.
Earlier, Djukanovic’s counterparts from Ukraine already did same by creating the US-backed ‘independent’ Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This led to the deepening of the social and political crisis in the country. The pseudo-church organization created in Ukraine gained no real support among the population, but this was enough to allow the Kiev regime to indict a new wave of religious hatred and religious-based persecutions.
The Montenegrin leadership apparently wants to repeat the Ukrainian case in order to tighten the screws on all forces that it sees as an opposition to its own power and the policy, which it provides in interests of the Euro-Atlantic elites.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Growing Resistance To Attemtps To Destroy Canonic Orthodox Church In Montenegro
- Montenegro Is Burning