June 2023 | Europe Now Movement wins snap parliamentary elections
The centrist Europe Now Movement has come first in the snap parliamentary elections, winning 25.5 per cent of the vote. These are the first elections in 30 years in which Milo Đukanović, the longest-ruling leader in contemporary Europe has not participated (following his loss in presidential elections in April). Đukanović held key positions for over 31 years, including as a president and prime minister. The coalition led by his party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, received 23.2 per cent of the vote, while the pro-Serbian electoral alliance “For the Future of Montenegro” garnered 14.7 per cent. Outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazović’s green-conservative coalition of United Reform Action and Democratic Montenegro won 12.5 per cent of the vote. The party has promised reforms on EU membership and the economy, including increases in average wages. International observers deemed the elections well-run, but emphasized the need for electoral reforms due to gaps and inconsistencies on the election law, which has not been updated since 2014. Voter turnout was the lowest since 1990, dropping to 56.3 per cent, a notable decrease from 76.7 per cent in 2020.
April 2023 | Landmark presidential runoff: Longstanding Đukanović suffers defeat from novice Milatović
Jakov Milatović of the Europe Now movement has won the presidential runoff election in Montenegro with 60 per cent of the vote, defeating longstanding incumbent Milo Đukanović, who has been a key actor in Montenegro’s politics for more than three decades, including as a prime minister and as a president. Although the presidency is a largely ceremonial position in Montenegro, the results signal the boost of Milatović’s center-right movement ahead of June’s parliamentary elections. Milatović, a former economy minister, campaigned on an anti-corruption and EU membership platform. Milatović received support from parties close to Serbia, Russia and the Orthodox Church. Voter turnout was 70.1 per cent, a record high as compared to other previous presidential elections. The turnout in the 2018 elections was 63.9 per cent.
March 2023 | Investigation spotlights police links with criminal groups
A large-scale investigation into organised crime has revealed ties between police and criminal groups and led to the government sacking police director, Zoran Brdjanin. Police assistant director, Dejan Knezevic, who was in charge of the fight against organized crime, was arrested for alleged links with the notorious Kavac drug group and for the creation of a criminal organization. The move comes following years of organized crime driven by gang violence and allegations that these groups have links with elite and government figures. Outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazović said that organized crime groups influenced the vote of no confidence to oust him, following increased raids for drugs and smuggled cigarettes leading to the biggest seizure of cocaine in the Balkans (1.4 tonnes). The Special State Prosecutor Sasa Cadjenovic was charged with protecting gang members, and Vesna Medenica, the head of the Supreme Court for 17 years, was charged for abuse of office and covering her son’s alleged illegal dealings with cocaine and cigarettes.
August 2022 | Government toppled by no-confidence vote
Dritan Abazović’s coalition government fell after a vote of no-confidence was called by the coalition parties following an agreement Abazović signed with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). The controversial agreement regulates the SOC’s position in the country, enabling its ownership over land and properties, including monasteries that are claimed by the Montenegrin Orthodox Church (which remained under the SOC following Montenegro’s separation from Serbia in 2006). This raised fears that the SOC is getting too much power compared to other religious groups and that this could increase Serbia’s and Russia’s influence in Montenegro. The agreement caused protests, was deemed unconstitutional by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and was especially opposed by pro-Western groups, exposing divisions between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who identify as pro-Russian Serbs.