The opposition may get a chance to break the Democratic Party of Socialists' hold on power by offering a joint presidential candidate, some say.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Podgorica -- 24/01/13
Filip Vujanovic has served as the president of Montenegro since 2003. [AFP]
Montenegro Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivokapic called for a presidential election for April 7th, following a meeting of parliamentary parties, in what some observers said is an opportunity for the opposition to achieve its first victory.
"The date allows for a longer campaign, which will give citizens an opportunity to get to know the candidates … Should it be necessary, a second election round will be organised on April 21st," Krivokapic said.
The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) candidates have won the presidency eight times since 1990.
An opposition victory this time around would have a big psychological impact on Montenegro, according to Svetozar Jovicevic, independent political analyst and former deputy prime minister.
"On the other hand, if the government-backed candidate wins, nothing of significance will change, because the citizens know their politics for 23 years already," Jovicevic said.
The DPS has still not decided who their candidate will be, but party officials are optimistic.
"We expect the victory of our candidate which will, in some way, be a rounding of the electoral process that began with parliamentary elections in October last year. Citizens can expect the continuation of the Euro-Atlantic integration for Montenegro which has made us recognised in the world," Halill Dukovic, member of DPS presidency, told SETimes.
Andrija Mandic, member of Presidency of Democratic Front, currently the largest opposition party, said they have announced Miodrag Lekic as a candidate.
"We also invited all other opposition parties to support our candidate; there's never been a greater chance for the entire opposition to stand behind one joint candidate. A victory will be a huge step forward in the fight against organised crime and for the improvement of the economy," Mandic told SETimes.
The presidency in Montenegro is largely ceremonial, but also offers the greatest state legitimacy of any function.
"Realistically, a joint opposition candidate will be a good choice, but the leaders in the opposition need to have more confidence in each other [to go that route]," Daliborka Uljarevic, executive director of the Podgorica-based Centre for Civic Education, told SETimes.
Uljarevic said that whether the opposition will opt for a joint candidate depends on who the DPS selects as a candidate.
Polls show that President FilipVujanovic is the most popular public figure, but there is a potential obstacle to him running, as he is serving his third term. Montenegro's 2007 constitution stipulates a person can only be re-elected twice.
But some argue Vujanovic is only now completing his first full presidential term because Montenegro restored its independence in 2006.
Others, like the Social Democratic Party of the ruling coalition, said they will oppose another Vujanovic candidacy.
Citizens said they do not have high expectations, though that position may change.
"People are tired of elections. Whoever is chosen will not have the magic wand to fix the difficult economic situation overnight. Citizens realise the politicians can not do too much to help them. We surely need a strong political figure to run the state, but my expectations are not great," Dragisa Cuturic, 54 mechanical engineer in Niksic, told SETimes.