Djukanovic ally gets mandate to form next Montenegrin government

Djukanovic ally gets mandate to form next Montenegrin government
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia November 10, 2016

Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanovic gave Dusko Markovic of the long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) the mandate to form the new government on November 9, after holding consultations with all political parties that are represented in the new parliament.

The nomination was not surprising as the DPS, led by veteran politician Milo Djukanovic once again gained the highest support in the October 16 general election – 41.41% of the vote, which has secured the party 36 MPs. A new DPS government will mean continuity in Montenegro, which is about to join Nato and is advancing towards EU accession. 

However, a group of opposition parties with a total of 39 MPs had also asked Vujanovic to give them the mandate, claiming that the law does not oblige the president to select the party that has gained the highest support. The pro-Russian Democratic Front, the civic-oriented Kljuc coalition, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Demokratska Crna Gora had hoped to take power after the election, ending the DPS's long domination of the government in the tiny country. 

Vujanovic, meanwhile, said that he believed he should give the mandate to the DPS. “We [the opposition and I] had different opinion on my obligation to name a mandate holder and I stand on the position that my constitutional obligation is to propose for mandate holder a representative of the formation that gained most MPs. Therefore, this is the Democratic Party of Socialists that has won 36 mandates for MPs,” Vujanovic said at a press conference.

He added that Markovic should be the prime minister designate, and form a government devoted to Montenegro’s European integration, economic development, rule of law, stability and overall prosperity of the country.

58-year-old Markovic is a deputy prime minister in the current government and is Djukanovic’s loyal ally. He was previously head of the agency for national security. Many analysts have said that he will continue Djukanovic’s politics.

Markovic has already started talks with potential coalition partners – the Social Democrats (SD) and the parties representing the ethnic minorities.  He said he expects to form a government very quickly as the first round of talks with the potential coalition partners has been successful. However, two of the ethnic parties – the Bosniak Party – has indicated it could support a government formed by the opposition. If the Bosniak party refuses to back Markovic, he will not have the needed majority in parliament as the coalition would only have 40 MPs in the 81-seat parliament.

The Bosniak Party would give the decisive two MPs to the coalition. So far, it has traditionally backed the DPS.

Not surprisingly, the nomination of Markovic was not well accepted by the opposition. Miodrag Lekic, leader of Demos – one of the three parties in the civic oriented Kljuc coalition – said that Vujanovic has breached democratic rights as he gave the mandate to Markovic prior to the establishment of an official coalition. He has called on the constitutional court to rule on Vujanovic’s decision.