28/03/2008 - D-7
489,894 voters are being called to vote on 6th April to elect the next President of the Republic. This election will be the first presidential election organised after the country regained independence on 21st May 2006. If none of the candidates wins the absolute majority in the first round a second round will be organised two weeks later on 20th April. 1,141 polling stations will be open across the country.
On 19th March last the National Electoral Commission published the list of four personalities who are running for the supreme office:
- Filip Vujanovic (Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS), outgoing President of the Republic, former Prime Minister (1998-2002);
- Nebojsa Medojevic, chairman of the opposition party, the Movement for Changes (PZP) supported by the New Democratic Power-Forca and Albanian Alternative;
- Andrija Mandic (Serb People's Party, SNS), leader of the "Serbian List", a coalition that rallies the Serb People's Party, the Democratic Party of Unity, DSJ, led by Zoran Zizic, the Party of Serb Radicals, SSR, led by Tomislav Nikolic, the People's Socialist Party, NSS, led by Novo Vujosevic, the Serb National Council, SNV, led by Momcilo Vuksanovic and Academic Alternative led by Vojin Grubac;
- Srdjan Milic, leader of the centre left party the Socialist People's Party (SNP) which is in favour of greater relations between Montenegro and Serbia.
The electoral campaign was upset somewhat by the return of the father of the country's independence, Milo Djukanovic to the Montenegrin political arena when he was elected head of government on 29th February by 41 of the 80 parliamentary representatives in replacement of Prime Minister Zeljko Sturanovic who resigned on 31st January on health grounds. The return of the former Prime Minister (1991-1997 and 2002-2006) and former President of the Republic (1997-2002) seems to have boosted the confidence of the Socialist Democratic Union that is in power at present (the present government coalition rallies the DPS and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and has the support of the Liberal Party and the Democratic Union of Albanians, DUA-UDSh.
Just one week before the election tension is running high between the candidates and the various political parties. Hence the Movement for Changes has accused the government of "anti-democratic and illegal activities", with its leader, Nebojsa Medojevic declaring in a press conference that he had uncovered an affair linked to the trafficking of identity cards. "We have found people, their names and first names and where they operate," he maintained saying that the identity documents had been bought with "mafia money". "We were informed that the money from organised crime, probably from drug smugglers is covering the expenses created by the arrival of the Montenegrin Diaspora for the vote," he stressed. The leader of the Movement for Changes denounced the increase in prices employed by private media in terms of advertising space during the electoral campaign. Nebojsa Medojevic, who says he is confident of his victory on 6th April next, says that if he is elected he will invite Andrija Mandic and Srdjan Milic to form a grand coalition with him.
On 3rd March Montenegro and the European Union signed an agreement authorising the participation of Podgorica in the innovation and competitiveness programmes in which other candidate countries such as Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey already take part. Montenegro and the European Union signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement on 15th October 2007. Podgorica hopes to join the Union in 2015.
Outgoing Head of State, Filip Vujanovic is still the favourite in the polls even though his defence of the Serb Orthodox Church has increased the feeling of discontent against him on the part of some of the population. The polls also reveal that the present President might be threatened by Nebjosa Medojevic if the two men were to meet in the second round. The leader of the Movement for Changes would however need the support of the Serb opposition parties if he wanted to win – but he is far from having gained this support.
The most recent poll undertaken by an NGO, the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights says that the outgoing Head of State will win in the first round with 52,8% of the vote. He is due to come ahead of Andrija Mandic who is due to take 19.1% of the vote, Nebojsa Medojevic 18.3% and finally Srdjan Milic 9.8%.