Montenegro’s DPS to stay in power after striking new coalition deal

Montenegro’s DPS to stay in power after striking new coalition deal
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia November 24, 2016

Montenegro’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) led by veteran politician Milo Djukanovic is set to head another government after the Bosniak Party decided to join the new ruling coalition late on November 23. Although another key potential member, the Social Democrats (SD), has yet to give its official answer on whether it will participate in the coalition, there is no doubt that the party will back the DPS.

The DPS has been in power since 1991 when it was created as a successor to the League of Communists of Montenegro, which had ruled Montenegro within the Yugoslav federation since World War II. Its leader Djukanovic has been either prime minister or president of the country for more than 25 years. Although the party has been accused by local politicians of corruption, it has also been seen as the only serious pro-Western alternative in the country. The DPS is committed to Montenegro’s membership in Nato and the European Union.

The formation of the new government under the DPS’s nominee Dusko Markovic will see Djukanovic standing down from the top level of government, at least temporarily. However, there is speculation he is likely to run for another term as president when Vujanovic’s term expires. 

In the October 16 general election, the DPS gained 41.41% of the vote, securing 36 seats in the parliament. Markovic was given the mandate to form a government by President Filip Vujanovic and started negotiations with parties representing ethnic minorities, which have four MPs in the parliament, and with the SD, which has two MPs in the 81-seat parliament.

The Bosniak Party seemed to be the most uncertain as it had also been approached by several opposition parties that were trying to put together a broad coalition and form a government without the DPS. However, at a meeting late on November 23, the party’s leadership decided to once again to support the DPS.

In return, the Bosniak Party will have one deputy prime minister and two ministers of labour and social affairs and of transport, news outlet CDM reported.

The SD is expected to also have two ministers - economy and health. The party’s leader Ivan Brajovic is expected to become the new parliament speaker as part of the coalition deal.

It is currently unclear whether the coalition of Albanian parties and the party representing the Croat minority will get ministerial seats.

The DPS is expected to finalise the new government by the end of November 24, paving the way for the parliament to vote on it on November 28.

The parliament is also due to vote on the new parliament speaker on November 24, and will have to urgently adopt a much needed budget revision proposed by the outgoing government earlier this month. The change is needed as there is a shortage of money for social payments.

The opposition Democratic Front (DF), which was behind the opposition attempt to form a government without the DPS, has announced that will stage a new round of anti-government protests in December, aiming to provoke the appointment of an interim government and a new general election. The DF held anti-government protests in 2015, trying to force Djukanovic to resign. However, the protests did not achieve their goal.