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Montenegro - Presidential Election

Presidential election in Montenegro 22nd December 2002

Presidential election in Montenegro 22nd December 2002

22/12/2002 - Analysis

On 20th October last the coalition "For a European Montenegro" led by the present President Milo Djukanovic easily won the early general elections that were organised in Montenegro. This victory and the establishment of a new majority was due to help resolve the political crisis that Montenegro has been suffering from for more than a year and also bring about the necessary stability in order to apply the economic, legal and political reforms that are vital to the country. The internal political crisis had led to a definite worsening of the population's living conditions. A report by the World Bank indicates that more than 80% of Montenegrins live in "subsistence" conditions. In addition to this over half of the population receives state aid and 20% live below the poverty line.

Today the outgoing President is Milo Djukanovic (Union of Democratic Socialists). Following the electoral victory of his coalition during the general election on 20th October he chose to become the Prime Minister of Montenegro. Since the Constitution stipulates that the latter is appointed by the President, Milo Djukanovic therefore resigned from his presidential functions on 25th November in order to take over government. However neither the Constitution nor any other law prohibits the same person from occupying the post of president of the Republic and also to undertake the function of Prime Minister. Filip Vujanovic, vice-president of the Union of Democratic Socialists, who is the outgoing prime minister and the new president of Parliament elected on 5th November, is ensuring the function of President of Montenegro in the interim until the election on 22nd December.

The leader of the Union of Democratic Socialists (DPS) has therefore decided not to risk defeat in the presidential election and will not canvass for a second presidential mandate. The president of Montenegro who is elected by direct universal suffrage every five years has few powers, since State Affairs are mainly dealt with by the Government. Milo Djukanovic succeeded in his function as president, an important position, but his future appointment as Prime Minister will allow him to recover real power. It appears evident that the next President will not have such an important role to play as the one played by Milo Djukanovic during his mandate especially if he belongs to the future Prime Minister's movement. At forty years old he is already a political veteran. He was appointed Prime Minister in 1991, the youngest in Montenegro's history (and in Europe), he renewed his functions twice in 1993 and 1996 before becoming President of the country in October 1997. He is the only politician - who started his career within the Yugoslav communist structures - who still has influence today.

Within the Union of Democratic Socialists the battle has begun to find the formation's future candidate in the presidential election on 22nd December. A selection should be made between Filip Vujanovic and Svetozar Marovic, both vice-presidents of the party who will be competing for the presidency of the DPS. Svetozar Marovic, who is really second after Milo Djukanovic seems in a better position today to become the candidate of the majority movement in Parliament. The academician Ljubisa Stankovic, president of the council of the Social Democrat Party (SDP) a movement that is member of the ruling coalition with the Union of Democratic of Socialists and former unfortunate candidate (against Momir Bulatovic) in the 1990 presidential election might also stand as candidate for the supreme office. The opposition for its part will probably put all its effort into Predrag Bulatovic, the leader of the Popular Socialist Party (SNP) since he appears to be best suited in assembling a majority of the opponents of Milo Djukanovic.

The political movements still have a few days to announce the names of their official candidates in the presidential election on 22nd December. As soon as the appointment of Milo Djukanovic takes effect the presidential election will really be able to commence.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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