Presidential election in Montenegro, 11th may 2003 a round up a few days before the election

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Corinne Deloy,  

Fondation Robert Schuman,  

Helen Levy

-

11 May 2003
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Deloy Corinne

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).

Robert Schuman Fondation

Fondation Robert Schuman

Levy Helen

Helen Levy

On 9th February last Filip Vujanovic, the candidate of the ruling coalition in Montenegro that includes the Democrat Party of Socialists (DPS), the Social Democrat Party (SDP), the Popular Alliance and Civic Party and the Prime Minister's right-hand man, (and former President of the Republic) Milo Djukanovic - won 81.7% of the votes cast thereby winning the presidential election. However because the participation rate was lower than 50% of those on the electoral role, the minimum required by the Constitution, the election was finally invalidated. Since then the Montenegrin Parliament has abolished the minimum participation threshold of 50% and set 11th May as the date for the next presidential election.

Three political personalities (against 11 during the two previous elections) are official candidates for the presidential position. These are:

Filip Vujanovic, ruling coalition candidate "Democratic List for a European Montenegro" that unites the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the Social Democrat Party (SDP) and the Popular Alliance and the Civic Party ;

Miodrag Zivkovic, Liberal Alliance candidate (LSCG) ;

Dragan Hajdukovic, independent candidate known in the country for his ecologist combat.

The three candidates are all fervently in favour of Montenegro's independence.

The opposition, grouped together in the coalition "Together for change", unites the Popular Socialist Party (SNP), the Popular Party (NS) and the Serb Popular Party (SNS), are movements in favour of maintaining close links between Montenegro and Serbia, did not manage to agree on appointing a candidate for the presidential election. The different parties tried, in vain, to convince Zorica Tajic Rabrenovic, MP, then Miodrag Lekic, ambassador for Montenegro in Italy, to run for the supreme office. But Predrag Bulatovic, president of the Popular Socialist Party (SNP), did not want to run the risk of having his position as coalition leader threatened by the appointment of an "official" opposition candidate. Drawing the lessons from the failure of negotiations to appoint a presidential election candidate, the Popular Party (NS) challenged the existence of the opposition coalition declaring that each party might consider themselves as independent from now on. Until now none of these parties has indicated that it will support one of the three candidates that are running in the presidential election on 11th May next.

We should remember that the three opposition movements also failed in asserting themselves in the elections organised to appoint Montenegrin members to the mono-cameral Parliament - that includes 126 MP's 91 of whom represent Serbia and 35, Montenegro - of the new State of Serbia and Montenegro that officially replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 4th February, the first President of which is Svetozar Marovic.

Aleksandar Vasilijevic (Radical Serb Party, SRS, the ultranationalist Serb leader Vojislav Seselj's party) candidate in the two previous presidential elections on 22nd December and 9th February had been appointed by his party to stand in the coming presidential election on May 11th. But his candidature was not retained by the National Electoral Commission. Likewise the former Home Minister Andrija Jovicevic, thrown out of the government by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic after having personally ordered the arrest of the Republic's deputy prosecutor Zoran Piperovic along with several other people who had been involved in a criminal affair of human trafficking, had expressed the possibility of standing for the presidential election. He typifies the country's new political class, that is concerned about taking Montenegro towards being a State of Law; he dismissed more than a thousand policemen and prosecuted around three hundred of them for corruption. The former Home Minister multiplied by ten the number of drugs seizures. After meeting the various representatives of the opposition movements, Andrija Jovicevic finally gave up standing in the election.

The three main opposition movements have tried in vain to turn the themes of corruption and organised crime into the main themes of the electoral campaign, accusing Milo Djukanovic's government of failing to stop the human trafficking just like the illegal trade in cigarettes.

In his electoral campaign Filip Vujanovic can rely on the results of Milo Djukanovic's hundred days of government. The Prime Minister has focussed on the acceleration of economic reforms and the construction of an efficient legal system. However just as the head of government announced the dismissal of between fifteen to eighteen thousand employees, the government's social agenda seems to be almost non existent. Milo Djukanovic, who has been much criticised for his lack of social dialogue with the unions and employers, is flouting the opposition's opinion and is not trying to find the support of social partners, preferring to rely on the support he enjoys on the part of international organisations such as the World Bank or the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). "The World Bank is a safe partner and its role in the planning of future government projects is unavoidable", he explained. In addition to this on 22nd April the president of the OSCE, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed the recent government efforts to fight against organised crime and to transform this Balkan State into a State of Law.

Without any true rival and after the change in the Constitution voted by Parliament that cancels out the existence of the minimum participation level necessary to validate the election, Filip Vujanovic, the ruling coalition's candidate in Podgorica, should by all accounts become the new President of Montenegro on 11th May.

Reminder of the results of the presidential election on 9th February 2003:

Participation : 47.4%, ie a participation rate lower than the minimum required by law; the election was therefore invalidated.

Source : Centre for Monitoring in Podgorica (CEMI)

General Election Results 20th October 2002:

Participation : 77.2%

Source: CESID (Centre for elections and democracy)

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