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Montenegro - Political Parties

There are currently over 100 registered political parties. of which 16 were represented in the Parliament elected in 2006, either on their own or as part of coalitions. Once the SEC has confirmed electoral lists (by early March), state-owned Radio and Television of Montenegro (RTCG) is required to provide free and equal airtime (at specially designated times) to each participating party/coalition.

At the first multiparty elections in Montenegro held in December 1990, the Union of Communists of Montenegro won (which very soon changed its name to the Democratic Party of Socialists), and Milo Šukanovic was elected Prime Minister on 15 February 1991. He served three terms as Prime Minister successively, until 19 October 1997 when he won at direct elections for the President of the Republic of Montenegro. In February 1998, Filip Vujanovic was elected Prime Minister. After the parliamentary elections in October 2002, Milo Šukanovic was elected Prime Minister.

The July 2008 Law on Financing of Political Parties specified the amount that parties/coalitions registered for the election may receive from the state budget, and caps donations from private and corporate sources. (Note: The Law allocates approximately one million Euros for the overall campaign, of which 20 percent will be divided among registered parties/coalitions for use during the campaign, and 80 percent will be allocated proportionally to those parties/coalitions which enter Parliament. Funds from other sources may not exceed 20 times the funds allocated to the party/coalition for its pre-election campaign.

Montenegro's expanded Democratic Party of Socialists - Social Democratic Party coalition was expecting a landslide win in the 29 March 2009 election, with a solid parliamentary majority well within reach. The out-financed and fragmented opposition trailed far behind, with only the three strongest parties, the left-centrist Socialist People's Party (SNP), the pro-Serb NOVA, and the civic Movement for Change (PzP) assured a return to Parliament. Several other parties and coalitions were hovering around the three percent parliamentary threshold. The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), in an expanded coalition with long-time junior partner the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and newcomers the Bosniak Party (BS) and Croatian Civic Initiative (HGI), is poised to win a landslide victory. According to a March 9-15 poll by the NGO CEDEM (which has been fairly accurate predicting the results of previous elections), the so-called "European Montenegro - Milo Djukanovic" coalition was supported by 51.2 percent of likely voters.

Trailing far behind is the fragmented opposition, which failed to unite despite a flurry of highly publicized initiatives at the beginning of the year. (Note: In total, 16 parties and coalitions are registered for the election). At this point, only the three strongest opposition parties are likely to return to Parliament.

New Serbian Democracy (NOVA): Former second-place presidential candidate Andrija Mandic transformed his Serbian People's Party (SNS) -- the leading force within the Serbian List alliance -- into NOVA. Mandic hoped that NOVA, by downplaying Serb identity issues and focusing on improving the quality of life of all Montenegrins, would expand his electorate. The immediate effect, however, was to split the Serbian List, and disgruntled new Serbian National List (SNL) coalition, composed of the Serbian Radical Party and the Party of the Serbian People, are now attacking Mandic for selling out Serb interests. NOVA was still far and away the strongest Serb party, but the discord could cut into its results. According to the CEDEM poll (which some claim tended to underestimate support for Serb parties), NOVA had 12 percent of the vote for 2009.

Movement for Change (PzP): Once aspiring to be Montenegro's leading opposition party, the centrist, multi-ethnic PzP has plummeted in the polls following leader Nebojsa Medojevic's disappointing third place showing the April 2008 presidential race. Founded in 2006 as a pro-European alternative to the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and Serb nationalists, the PzP was Montenegro's leading opposition party after gaining 11 seats in its first election (in September 2006). Critics had long accused Medojevic of putting political expediency ahead of principles, and in fact several of the party's founders left in 2006 when Medojevic - seeking not to offend Serb voters - declined to explicitly back Montenegrin independence. In January 2009, several of the party's MPs and a sizeable number of activists, disenchanted with Medojevic's mercurial leadership and propensity to play to all sides on major issues, split to form the Democratic Center (now allied with the Liberal Party). The CEDEM poll, vigorously disputed by PzP supporters, gave the party only 6.3 percent support in 2009 (an IRI poll, in the field in February before opposition parties had decided against a pre-election coalition and before the campaign had officially started, put PzP at 9.7 percent support among all voters.)

The Socialist People's Party (SNP) has struggled to reconcile its conservative, anti-independence, and largely Serb base with leader Srdjan Milic's desire to create a modern, civic party. After losing support steadily over several elections, the SNP has gained back ground rapidly in 2009, in part due to turmoil within its two main opposition rivals. With the PzP in decline, the mantle of centrist, opposition leadership passed to the Socialist People's Party (SNP), which is poised to make big gains on March 29 but is still struggling to reconcile a more centrist, civic wing with older, Serb, and pro-Yugoslav members. The SNP, which retained a strong organization throughout Montenegro, presents itself as a responsible, pro-European party. According to the CEDEM poll, 16.8 percent of Montenegrins support SNP.

The polls showed only two other parties/coalitions on the cusp of the parliamentary threshold in 2009: --The Democratic Center - Liberal Party (DC-LP) alliance: The former PzP-ites in the DC bill their new party as a pro-Montenegrin, "third-way" alternative to the ruling coalition and nationalist parties (in contrast to the PzP, which failed to take a stance on independence and which recently has been chummy with Mandic.) The Liberal Party is known for its skepticism of NATO membership, but would anyway fold their party into the DC (which was more open to the possibility of NATO) after the election. CEDEM puts support for the DC-LP, which appears to have some significant financial backing, at 2.9 percent (the IRI poll has the combined total of the two parties at 3.3 percent). --The Party of Pensioners and Disabled: According to CEDEM, the Party, a new organization based on military veterans and retirees concerned about the effects of the global economic crisis, is supported by 3.5 percent of the population. Skeptics, however, predict that the party's lack of infrastructure and funding makes it likely to fade at the finish.

Among the remaining candidates, the pro-Serb People's Party - Democratic Serbian Party (NS-DSS) coalition has polled badly, but its constituent parties have three MPs in the Parliament elected in 2006 and retained some infrastructure. The radical Serbian National List, comprised of disgruntled former members of the Serbian List, made some noise during the 2009 campaign (often by attacking NOVA) but has 1.6 percent support, according to the CEDEM poll. With the exception of a new "Bosniaks and Muslims Together" coalition (polling at 1.9 percent), other non-Albanian parties/coalitions - including the radical Fatherland Serbian Party and the Montenegrin Communist Party - barely register.

Five of the 81 seats in Parliament are elected by votes cast in approximately 70 majority-Albanian polling stations. In the September 2006 election, the DPS won two of these seats, while three small Albanian parties -- the pro-GoM Democratic Union of Albanians (DUA) and the opposition Democratic Alliance of Montenegro (DSCG) and Albanian Alternative (AA) -- garnered an MP apiece.

The ruling coalition was the overwhelming favorite in the low-key 2009 election, with the main drama centered around whether it can gain an absolute majority of votes. Even if it fails to achieve this, the coalition was still likely to get a solid majority, since a number of votes would be "wasted" on parties failing to clear the parliamentary threshold which would in turn give winning parties proportionally more seats. A secondary drama is unfolding for pride of place as leading opposition party.

In the 2009 elections, the governing DPS/Social Democratic Party /the Bosniak Party/Croatian Civic Initiative Party/Democratic Union of Albanians coalition won 48 seats in parliament. Other seats were won by the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro (16 seats), New Serb Democracy Party (8), Movement for Changes Party (5), New Democratic Power – FORCA Party (1), Albanian List coalition (composed of the Democratic Alliance in Montenegro and the Albanian Alternative) (1), and the Albanian Coalition-Perspektiva (composed of Party of Democratic Unity of Albanians and a group of citizens represented by Amir Hollaj. On June 10, 2009, the new parliament re-elected the Prime Minister, Milo Šukanovic, to a sixth term.

On 14 October 2012 Montenegro's ruling coalition won the most votes in the parliamentary election. An unofficial tally by CEMI, a non-government election monitoring group, showed the center-left Democratic Party of Socialists, led by veteran politician Milo Djukanovic, won 46 percent of the vote. That gave them 39 out of 81 seats in the future parliament with 95 percent of the votes counted, forcing the DPS to turn to deputies for ethnic minorities to secure a majority. The Democratic Front, the main opposition bloc, took only 21 percent of the vote, or 20 seats, followed by the pro-Serb Socialist People's Party with 10.5 percent, or nine seats. The win for DPS extended their 20-year hold on power in the former Yugoslav republic.

The European Montenegro coalition (Democratic Party of Socialists – DPS, Social Democratic Party – SDP and Liberal Party – LP), together with ethnic minority parties, Bosniak Party – BS, Croatian Civic Initiative – HGI and ethnic Albanian parties (FORCA and DP) held 45 seats in the 81-seat Parliament. As for the opposition, the Democratic Front (DF) held 20, Socialist People’s Party (SNP) nine, and Positive Montenegro (PCG) seven seats.

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Page last modified: 18-10-2013 14:18:46 ZULU