The ruling coalition said it wants to avoid hiccups on the country's EU path, but the opposition said those in power are just paving the way for more problems.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Podgorica -- 31/07/12
Montenegro's parliament was dissolved last week. [Reuters]
In what is said to be an effort to continue on its European integration track, Montenegro's ruling coalition dissolved parliament last week, which is a prerequisite for calling early elections that are expected in October.
The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the main party in the ruling coalition, is expected to win again despite the ongoing allegations of nepotism and corruption. But the DPS and its coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), could face difficulty proving to the EU that it has cleaned up its act. It could be years before Montenegro actually joins the Union.
The vote, which passed 47-27 in the 81-seat parliament, frees President Filip Vujanovic to call a parliamentary election six months ahead of schedule.
"We want the government and parliament to be at full capacity so that the negotiations with the EU that began last month are taken seriously," Miodrag Vukovic, DPS vice president, told SETimes. "We cannot ask Europe to wait for us while we held the election and then go to the reforms."
The DPS will come to the polls in a partnership with the SDP, as the two parties have had a coalition agreement for the past 14 years.
The opposition, however, believes that the ruling coalition just wants another four years in power.
Neven Gosovic, vice president of the Socialist Peoples Party (SNP), the largest opposition party, said the ruling coalition is the only group that will benefit from the early elections.
"We are seriously thinking about boycotting the elections and we will discuss on that option during the talks about the upcoming elections with other opposition parties," Gosovic told SETimes.
The other two opposition parties, New Serbian Democracy and the Movement for Change, formed a "Democratic Front" that joined for the elections. Positive Montenegro, the party that was founded in May, announced that it will participate in the elections independently.
Milan Popovic, a professor at the Podgorica Faculty of Political Sciences, said that the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government demonstrated during protests that lasted from January 21st until June 21st shows that the ruling coalition is in a rush to grab a new mandate.
"The opposition is still uncertain when it comes to a common front for the upcoming election, but I believe that they will succeed to consolidate their lines," Popovic told SETimes. "The government is afraid of another winter that will be economically difficult, and that is why they want to win the elections as soon as possible."
According to recent polls, DPS has support of 44% of voters. The Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, an NGO that deals with election results, said the SNP has 16.6% voter support, while NOVA has 8.5%. PzP and Positive Montenegro trail with 7.9% and 7.5%, respectively.
Davor Cupic, 26, from Podgorica, said he will vote in the autumn elections.
"I can now say with certainty that I will vote against the current government, because I'm looking for a job more than three years and didn't find anything. There are some new faces showing up in the politics world, we will see what they can do," Cupic told SETimes.
Miko Ralic, 46, from Podgorica, said he has supported the ruling party since its founding.
"This is the party that brought us to the doorstep of Europe, regained our independence and enhanced the standard of living. Of course there are still problems, but they cannot be solved overnight," Ralic told SETimes.