On 27 January Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s (Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS) government gained just enough votes in the parliament to be able to continue his mandate. Djukanovic himself, who has been ruling the country since 1991, called for the motion and gained 42 of the 81 votes. The vote puts an end to the alliance with the long-time partner Social Democratic Party (SDP) which voted against the government. However, the smallest opposition party Positive Montenegro voted in favour of the ruling party. In exchange for their support Djukanovic accepted their plan to maintain political stability and offered them five seats in the cabinet.
From the 81 votes, 20 were against the PM and 19 lawmakers were absent.
On 25 January hundreds of people gathered in the capital Podgorica to protest against the government, while watching the debate in the parliament on a big screen. The protest was organized by the opposition alliance Democratic Front (DF), who voiced accusations of corruption, undemocratic practices and election fraud. The protest was held at the same time that lawmakers debated a confidence motion in parliament, that might lead to early election. The main ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has initiated the confidence motion in order to prove that they still have a majority in the parliament.
Protesters held banners with anti-government slogans and shouted “Milo thief”, aimed at the prime minister who has been in power since 1991. The DF called on other opposition MPs to vote against the government. The debating on this motion might take several days, and the DF vowed to continue the protests until a decision has been made. It seems unlikely, however, that a majority will vote out the government. Opposition Positive Montenegro Party will support the government if it accepts its plan to overcome the political crisis. Among others, the plan includes reconstruction of the government, with representatives of the opposition joining the government that would ensure fair and free elections.
The protest is the last in a campaign of protest that was launched in September 2015. Montenegro’s NATO invitation in December fueled the protests as pro-Serbian groups organized their own protests. They also called on opposition MPs to vote against the motion, as the government acts “against democracy, vital state interests and the will of the citizens”. The pro-Serbian opposition furthermore said that Montenegro is “run by several foreign embassies”. Montenegro, home to a large Serbian population, is divided over the NATO membership.
On 19 December Djukanovic called for the vote of confidence, saying that “questions have been raised as to whether this government enjoys the support of parliament”. Support within his ruling coalition has declined. The Social Democratic Party (SDP), that is part of the ruling coalition, announced that it would not vote in favor of Djukanovic. Political analyst Daliborka Uljarevic argued that the SDP “believes that the DPS is a ship that is soon to sink and that they should not sink with it”. Djukanovic responded by saying that “those who want to be both in power and in opposition” should not be in the government. Without the SDP Djukanovic, backed by parties representing ethnic minorities, will likely be supported by 39 out of 81 MPs. In order to survive the confidence vote he will need the support of Positive Montenegro.
Sources: rfe/rl, BalkanInsight