Montenegrin president’s party almost wiped out in local elections

Montenegrin president’s party almost wiped out in local elections
Milo Djukanovic has held one of the top offices in Montenegro for most of the last three decades. / bne IntelliNews
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia October 24, 2022

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) lost the local election in 11 out of 14 municipalities on October 23, with the Europe Now movement formed by two former ministers seen as the big winner due to its better-than-expected performance.

The loss comes amid increasing efforts by Djukanovic to end the mandate of the current parliament and call an early general election, hoping to return to power. In 2020, his party lost the general election after more than three decades in office.

Montenegro has 23 municipalities but they do not hold local elections at the same time. However, the loss of the DPS's majority in Podgorica in particular was seen as a punishment for Djukanovic’s rather counter-productive role in the political crisis in the country.

According to data released by the public broadcaster RTCG, the DPS, which had been in charge in eight of the 14 municipalities, now has a majority in just four.

According to political analyst Milos Besic, the DPS failed to understand the message from the 2020 general election.

“Since 2020, the DPS is heading towards a clear erosion. It is obvious that they have not understood the message from 2020. Instead of accepting the loss of power as a sort of a message, they are increasingly escalating [tensions] and this is the result of the escalation,” Besic said in an interview with RTCG.

Meanwhile, the new civic movement Europe Now, formed by former ministers of the government of Zdravko Krivokapic – Jakov Milatovic and Milojko Spajic – got 21.7% of the votes in Podgorica. The movement was set up in the spring but has quickly gained popularity and could become the next big factor in politics if an early election is called soon.

“Thanks to Europe Now the DPS has lost the local election. They were unable to persuade people that €220 is more than €450,” Spajic said as quoted by N1.

He was referring to the Europe Now programme prepared by Krivokapic’s government, which envisaged a significant rise of wages. The programme is being implemented by Abazovic's government as well but its authors were Milatovic and Spajic.

Milatovic said that he expects quick coalition talks that would lead to the formation of a local government in Podgorica. He is seen as the most likely new mayor of the capital.

The All for Our City coalition won most of the votes in Podgorica – 38.1%. Analysts expect a coalition between All for Our City and Europe Now.

In the race for Podgorica, the Democratic Front also performed well, getting 18.2% of the votes. On the other hand, Abazovic's civic URA took just 6.4%.

The DPS also commented on the election result, insisting that it is time for a new general election and claiming that the election results have actually shown the current ruling coalition is no longer legitimate.