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As the final results of the general election in Montenegro are in, it turns out that President Milo Djukanovic has all but squandered 30 years of leadership.
His pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists has shown one of the lowest results in its history and as a result risks being in the minority.
Having received 35%, the ruling party is only a couple of percent ahead of the main opposition coalition For the Future of Montenegro, which took over 32%.
The opposition in total accounts for more than 50% of the vote, and they can form an alliance that can put Djukanovic’s party in the minority.
As such, they are likely to form a majority, and a government, having 41 out of the country’s 81 parliament seats.
“The 30-year-old regime has fallen! The time has come for freedom,” one of the opposition leaders, Zdravko Krivokapic, who heads the For the Future of Montenegro bloc, commented.
The opposition advocates closer ties with Russia and Serbia, from which Montenegro broke away 14 years ago. This runs counter to the pro-Western policies of recent years.
Under Djukanovic, Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 and became a candidate for EU membership. It should be reminded that in 1999 Montenegro was bombed generously by NATO and primarily the US.
Djukanovic enjoys the support of the West, where, despite accusations of corruption, links with organized crime and nepotism, no one called him “the last dictator of Europe”. He has been in power for 30 years and he has never had any actual competition.
Until now, despite the extremely ambiguous attitude of ordinary Montenegrins towards him, he managed to maintain power, constantly stirring up controversy and discrediting his opponents.
Djukanovic, following the example of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s created a local ‘independent’ Montenegrin church and began a struggle with the Serbian Orthodox Church, whose parishioners are the majority of the locals.
In late 2019, Djukanovic pushed through parliament a law allowing the state to seize church property, prompting widespread protests. As a result, the church called on believers to vote against the presidential party, which largely predetermined the president’s defeat.
Despite the claims of the Djukanovic government, the overhelming majority of Montenegrins turned out to be quite faithful and supported the Serbian Orthodox Church. And the arrests of priests, bishops, threats of confiscation of churches were the last straw.
The campaign against the canonic Orthodox Church backfired, both in Ukraine and in Montenegro – in Ukraine because Poroshenko was not re-elected, but the church is still struggling to “consolidate power” and in Montenegro because the pseudo-church structure created there couldn’t even start its struggle, citizens simply shut it down from the get-go.
Djukanovic decided to challenge the Serbian Orthodox Church by giving opponents the opportunity to claim that God is with them. Apparently, it was the church’s involvement in the campaign that ensured an unusually high turnout – over 75%. And many voters voted as the bishops advised, there is a possibility that for the first time the power in Montenegro will be replaced at the polling stations.
In Ukraine, Djukanovich is already being compared to Poroshenko with his Tomos and the ‘independent’ Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which did not help him win.
Of course, Djukanovic’s party may still attempt to hold on to power, with a slim majority, if they manage to form some sort of government.
But the issues with the church, together with the loss of tourism due to the pandemic, and the economic downturn don’t spell anything promising ahead for the last “not-a-dictator” of Europe.
After all, no words of support have come for the citizens protesting against their government’s actions from the US, EU or others, mostly because the “not-a-dictator” Djukanovic plays to the West’s fiddle, and isn’t looking into independent foreign policy.
Despite years of the neo-liberal and pro-Western propaganda and the seizure of power in many Eastern European countries by regimes dependent on the Euro-Atlantic elites, local conservative societies still resist to the forcefully-imposed neo-liberal agenda.
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