Montenegrins debate political offer for October election

22/09/2012

Many view the election as a government-opposition dance which benefits the political parties rather than citizens, but some are hopeful of positive changes.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Podgorica -- 22/09/12

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Opposition and new political parties hope to break the Democratic Party of Socialists' 23-year reign. [Reuters]

The campaign for Montenegro's ninth parliamentary election began September 14th amid a debate about whether the fractured opposition can muster the strength to unseat the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and its coalition partners, who have ruled for 23 years.

The latter, led by former, six-term Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, are confident of another victory.

"We expect another electoral success as in previous years, a parliamentary majority, and will continue implementing the policy of Montenegro's Euro-Atlantic integration," Zoran Bosnjak, MP of the Democratic Party of Socialists, told SETimes.

Some bloggers are encouraged that the opposition Movement for Change (PzP) and New Serbian Democracy (NOVA) teamed up to form the Democratic Front.

The largest opposition Socialists People's Party (SNP), however, will participate independently.

"The Montenegrin Olympic Election Games may begin!" BlogoFanzin summed up the mood.

Despite a desire by many to see the ruling party unseated, Sara is cautious about the Democratic Front's impact on Montenegro's statehood and identity.

"Serbian nationalism is still in their heads and sometimes they forget they are not moving ahead. If the Democratic Front comes to power, we will return to the time of Slobodan Milosevic," she said.

Supporters of the ruling parties present themselves as defenders of Montenegrin identity and are particularly irked by the interference of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which often denies the existence of Montenegrin nationality and church.

"All those who love Montenegro are entering a coalition with the DPS, and all those who deny Montenegro are in the Democratic Front. I still can not believe that the heads of the Serbian Church can insult and humiliate Montenegrin people in their own country," Wizard said.

Some bloggers argued the ruling parties intentionally deepen a national division for their electoral benefit.

"The saddest thing is that after 23 years, the unnatural division of the people between Montenegrins and Serbs is still present. Worse, someone always plays that card to win according to the principle divide and conquer. Milo Djukanovic is playing that card for 23 years and we see how it works -- very well," Marko said.

Still others, like the newly formed Positive Montenegro Party, advocate for substantive changes beyond the national divide and against corrupting the electoral process.

"The ruling parties' negative campaign already started and now they provide loans, employ family members," Abazovic, told SETimes.

Abazovic explained that such practices take place in every election and the opposition must fight them head on. "The party that has governed for 23 years simply does not know to run a campaign any other way," he said.

There are those who see the election as a farce in a government-opposition dance which benefits them but not the citizens.

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"The only truth is the opposition has traditionally been silly and has never once undermined the dictatorial regime in two decades, continually providing it with legitimacy by staying in the institutions and participating in fraudulent elections," Perfect Stranger said.

"The one and only solution is to boycott the election," he said.

Milan Vujovic spoke for those who are fed up with business as usual and see an opportunity for change.

"It has been a while since voters could put the ballot in the ballot box holding their heads high. The October elections can bring back the self-respect of the impoverished intellectuals, powerless workers, despised officials and humiliated pensioners," Vujovic said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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