Montenegro heading towards early election as ruling coalition fails to agree on government

Montenegro heading towards early election as ruling coalition fails to agree on government
Demos leader Miodrag Lekic, who was nominated to become Montenegro's prime minister, said he wanted a serious government but found no serious partners. / Demos
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia January 4, 2023

Montenegro is heading towards an early election that will most likely be held with the regular presidential vote, as the ruling coalition has failed to agree on a government, Miodrag Lekic, the leader of the civic Demos party, who was already nominated for prime minister, said on January 4.

The ruling coalition comprises 20 parties varying from pro-Russian to pro-Western, grouped in three small coalitions - For the Future of Montenegro, Peace is Our Nation and Black in White. Together, they have 41 out of 81 MPs, beating President Milo Djukanovic's former ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).

Lekic said that at a meeting of the ruling coalition held on January 4, he commented that he wanted to head a serious government but got no serious partners. He did not elaborate on which parties have given up the election of a new government.

"I said that the government will be serious or there won't be one. There won't be one, and let the citizens interpret who was serious," Lekic said as quoted by public broadcaster RTCG.

Andrija Mandic, one of the leaders of the pro-Russian Democratic Front – the largest party in the coalition – said that the Socialist People’s Party (SNP), civic URA and Civis refused to sign a request for an extraordinary session of parliament that would elect a new government. He added that, in the current situation, it would be best for the country to hold an early general election and regular presidential vote simultaneously.

The DF’s co-leader Milan Knezevic accused his former coalition partners of being bribed to refuse to sign the request.

On the other hand, the Black in White coalition led by URA said that the DF has been demanding an extraordinary session of parliament without signing an agreement on the principles and the structure of the government.

The DPS also supports the request for an early election as the only way to exit the current political crisis. The party also seeks a dialogue on the election of judges to the constitutional court. In December, MPs failed to elect the judges of the Constitutional Court, so the highest court in Montenegro is blocked and cannot make decisions on the constitutionality of the disputed law.

Moreover, the court being blocked could become an obstacle to the organisation of the presidential election in 2023 and of early parliamentary elections if they are called too.

In November, a poll carried out by the Centre for Civil Education showed that a majority of Montenegrins want an early election to exit the current political crisis.