Montenegro’s opposition Democratic Front (DF) has turned down an invitation to a cross-party meeting initiated by parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic, in an attempt to start a dialogue on free and fair elections next year.
Krivokapic sent the invitation to the leaders of all parties represented in the parliament on November 23 after a series of protests organised by the DF. However, DF leaders continue to insist that the only way to change the government is through protest action and seem unwilling to come to the negotiating table even thought their support has dwindled recently.
The aim of Krivokapic’s proposed meeting was to analyse electoral legislation in advance of next year’s elections. The DF has already decided to boycott the parliament for a month after its proposed electoral reform amendments aimed at ensuring free and fair polls were not adopted. DF leaders said that they did not trust the legal experts that Krivokapic planned to bring to the meeting.
Andrija Mandic, leader of New Serb Democracy (NOVA), which is part of DF, claimed that election results have been rigged in Montenegro for more than a decade, therefore Montenegro does not have a legitimate authorities, according to Montenegrin news site CDM
“As such governing entities do not exist, they have no authority to make decisions that are in the interest of the majority of people. The Social Democratic Party will not leave the government of Montenegro, nor its faulty coalition with the [Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro] (DPS), because they too know that their own three mandates weren't earned in fair elections,” Mandic said following a meeting of DF leaders in Danilovgrad.
The DF comprises three opposition parties: the New Serb Democracy (NOVA), Movement for Changes (PzP) and Democratic Party of Unity (DSJ). Its main goal is to overthrow prime minister Milo Djukanovic’s ruling DPS, which has been in power since 1991.
It insists that it will continue trying to oust Djukanovic, who has been in power almost continuously since 1991, when he became the youngest prime minister in Europe at the age of 29. He later held the position of president (between 1998 and 2002) and was again prime minister from 2003 to 2006, 2008 to 2010, and from December 2012 to present.
However, the protests initiated by DF since September 27 have started losing support. At the latest demonstration, organised on November 15, only some 1,500 people participated.
A poll conducted by Damar polling agency prior to the protests showed that just 11.5% of Montenegrins believe that protests are the opposition’s most effective political tool. Most of those polled, 29.6%, think that the most effective political tool is participation in elections.
Another poll, conducted by the Ipsos Strategic Marketing agency in mid-October, showed that only 8% of the population supports the DF. Another poll conducted by CEDEM in the first week of November showed that the DF had just 8.7% support.
Despite this, the DF plans to hold another demonstration on November 28 in the city of Niksic in central Montenegro.
Djukanovic is widely expected to call elections for spring 2016, around six months in advance of the general elections scheduled for October the same year, as the DPS-led coalition is increasingly shaky. There is widespread speculation in Montenegro that the DPS and its junior partner the Social Democrats Party are only keeping the coalition together to ensure that Montenegro does not miss its chance of NATO membership.
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