Montenegro opposition faces obstacles in presidential elections

19/03/2013

The recent local elections may be a foreshadowing for the presidential vote.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Podgorica -- 19/03/13

The Democratic Party of Socialists' victory in Niksic's municipal elections bodes well for the party's chances when Montenegro citizens go to the polls next month for the presidential election, analysts said.

The ruling party's candidate, President Filip Vujanovic, will face opposition candidate Miodrag Lekic in the April 7th presidential election, the State Election Commission confirmed. The ruling DPS candidates have won the presidency eight times since 1990.

"Montenegrin spring is coming, politically speaking. I believe in the mission of our political group, to try finding the lost civil courage and dignity in Montenegro, and changing things for the better," Lekic said on March 5th in Niksic, where he started his political campaign.

Lekic is supported by the Democratic Front, the largest opposition party in Montenegro.

But Daliborka Uljarevic, executive director of the Podgorica-based Centre for Civic Education, told SETimes that the DPS victory in Niksic, Montenegro's second largest city, in the March 9th local elections could be a precursor to the presidential vote.

"Niksic is a strong warning to the opposition, and seems a good reason for them to initiate a democratic process of taking responsibility for such a result, or review their strategies," Uljarevic said.

Zoran Bosnjak, DPS MP, told SETimes that he is confident that Vujanovic will win.

"A huge number of citizens who do not vote for our party, DPS, would vote Vujanovic because the man simply has the charisma of the president. He'll win no matter whose political support he gets. The catch lies in that he was, is, and will be the president of all citizens of Montenegro, not just particular ethnic or religious groups," he said.

In Niksic, voters reversed an election held five months ago that gave power to opposition parties Democratic Front, Positive Montenegro, and the Socialist People's Party (SNP). But the opposition failed to form a government. Uljarevic said that by voting for DPS, Niksic citizens are taking revenge on the opposition parties.

"The opposition didn't approach [forming a] government in Niksic with understanding and responsibility, which led to strong disappointment because expectations were high," she said.

Though polls show that Vujanovic is currently the most popular public figure, some citizens said they don't have high expectations.

"This set of politicians in power for 23 years now has shown everything they know. The citizens have seen what they can do, and we can easily say that their time is up. Whatever and whoever the opposition candidate is, we should give him a chance," Srdjan Kasovac, from Podgorica, told SETimes.

Danilo Vukcevic, electrical engineering student from Podgorica, thinks that "presidential elections don't have such a great importance, given that the prime minister actually runs the country. So, I think that many will not vote because parliamentary elections are much more important. I'll definitely use my citizens' right and vote."

SETimes correspondent Nedjeljko Rudovic in Podgorica contributed to this report.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.