[Opinion] : Montenegro: where’s the beef ?

By Miodrag Vlahović, @Mico_Vlahovic

Podgorica, 18 August 2023, / – Montenegro’s parliamentary election June 11 gave the Europe Now movement 24 out of 81 seats, edging out the former ruling party and its coalition allies. But the process of creating the new Montenegrin government still goes on. After a long consultations, President (Jakov) Milatović has given Milojko Spajić a mandate. He now has to gain a majority in parliament.

Back to square one

That took almost two months. Now Montenegrin politicians seem to be back to square one. The reason is simple. The dilemma is whether to include pro-Serbian/pro-Russian parties (New Serbian Democracy and the Democratic People’s Party) in the next government.

Their inclusion would be risky move for Spajić. The new government would lose any claim to being pro-EU. And it would have no credibility in the West. The US and German ambassadors in Podgorica have emphasized that participation of political parties opposed to NATO and to recognition of Kosovo, or failing to oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine, would block Montenegro’s progress towards the EU.

Limited options

Spajić has received this message, but whether he can comply remains uncertain. Without the pro-Serbian/pro-Russian parties, he can hope for support from 44 members of parliament (41 is required for a simple majority). But a qualified majority (3/5) of 49 is required for implementation of crucial judiciary reforms.

The elephant in the room is the former ruling party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, together with their allies. They are pro-EU. If things were normal and logical, DPS would be a natural partner for Spajić’s Europe Now movement.

Spajić, however, still clings to the notion that former President Đukanović’s party is “not reformed enough.” Translation: Đukanović is still there.

Not able to do what is logical, Spajić is condemned to forming a weak government unable to pursue needed reforms. He might even find himself evicted from the prime ministry after even the smallest dispute or political crisis.

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President Milatović, his deputy in the Europe Now movement, is part of Spajić’s problem. The President is thought to be connected to a group who have announced the creation of new party. They want inclusion of anti-NATO parties in the new government.

So, is this delay about formation of a new reformist government that can take Montenegro into the EU, or is it a power struggle between Spajić and Milatović? Where’s the beef?

New elections?

There is the possibility of new elections. That would mean Spajić lost the power struggle. It is an open question whether it would be good or bad for Montenegro.


Miodrag Vlahović, is former Montenegrin Minister of Foreign Affairs and former ambassador to US. He is now president of the Montengrin Helsinki Committee. This opinion of his was first published at website.   

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