The biggest loser of this election is the idea of the election boycott. It was the idea, advocated by the significant number of political and para-political actors during the first half of this year. Or, better to say, until the election was called. It is worth reminding that none of the parties and coalitions by any means conditioned their decision to run in the election.
High turnout of more than seventy percent demonstrated that people of Montenegro are still interested in politics and active in electing a desirable political option. It was demonstrated that people and political actors believe that elections are the best way for advancing democracy. The number of invalid ballots is similar to the one from the previous election. The number of dispersed votes is almost four times smaller and amounts for only three mandates, which have been split between the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) (2) and the Democratic Front (DF) (1), a recently formed political alliance which is mainly composed of two opposition parties – New Serbian Democracy, NOVA and Movement for Changes (PzP) along with the faction of the Socialist People’s Party (SNP).
The main winner of the election is Positive Montenegro. It attracted tired and disappointed supporters of Montenegrin independence in the 2006 referendum with an offer, which, politically and in terms of values, placed itself into the realm of the referendum majority (irreversibility of Montenegro’s independence and stability of its state symbols, support for NATO and the EU). Positive Montenegro didn’t openly confront with the ruling coalition. It didn’t sharpen its rhetoric against Djukanovic and his business associates, corruption and organized crime, as the traditional opposition has been doing for years now. After the electoral celebration, the leadership of Positive Montenegro will need either to respond to the calls of two big political groupings or to insist on the idea of minority government of this party, which is theoretically possible but practically hardly feasible and politically irresponsible. In the following period, the answers to the question about which kind of politics Positive Montenegro is really pushing for will be sought. If the party fails to answer those questions, orange balloon (a colour for which the party is recognisable for), depleted from political content and political personalities, could quickly fly away from the political scene.
The SNP paid a price of its “anemic politics” and refusal to join the DF under the conditions set by the two smaller opposition parties (the PzP and NOVA). The party’s leadership has gone through a media lynch and departure of several important figures. It led the campaign on unclear basis and with the damaged infrastructure. Essentially, the SNP paid a price for distancing itself from the usual opposition’s rhetoric and old political allies. On the other hand, its leadership didn’t find other attractive strategy, especially when it comes to the expansion of its voters’ base into the space of other identities. Instead, in the campaign, it slipped into the national rhetoric from which it tried to move away over the past years. The SNP thus remained somewhere between the old and new voters. Yet, given the challenges it endured during the year, it demonstrated considerable resilience.
The SNP, NOVA and the PzP altogether had 29 MPs in the previous parliament. In the next one, given the structure of the DF, more or less the same parties will have 30 seats. This means that the DF expanded at the expense of the SNP’s fall. The internal distribution of 30 mandates of the traditional opposition points to the limitations of political strategy of the three opposition parties. For its result, the DF can thank to Miodrag Lekic, Predrag Bulatovic and to the SNP.
Government, which would be composed of the DF and parties not belonging to the DPS-SDP coalition is theoretically possible. The one who managed to make such government, however, would deserve a prize for political skilfulness. Such idea is primarily dependent on Positive Montenegro and on the SNP, and then, on several minority parties, traditional partners of the DPS.
Apart from tasks stemming from the formation of the new government, the DF has to face challenge of forming the new Montenegro’s parliament. In the case of parliamentary transformation of the DF into two (NOVA and the PzP) or more parliamentary groups (group of Miodrag Lekic and group of Predrag Bulatovic), the SNP will remain the strongest opposition party. That is a situation which the DF and its constituents would be happy to avoid, but larger number of parliamentary groups instead of a single one for the entire DF, opens up many other opportunities for parliamentary behaviour, preservation of parties’ identities and for their financing.
The most significant trends are observed through the decrease of support for the ruling coalition comprised of the DPS and its minor coalition partner – Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is, for the first time over the last ten years, forced to look for the partners in order to form the new government. Still, it should be noted that, in the 2009 election, the coalition, headed by Djukanovic, collected 168,290 votes, while in this election, it received 163,112 votes. What more, Bosniak Party, member of Djukanovic’s coalition in the 2009 election, now collected more than 15,000 votes. The Croatian Civic Initiative (HGI) also previous member of the same coalition, had over 1,500 votes. These figures make the “victorious” mathematics of the opposition a somewhat more relative category.
On the other hand, the decrease of public trust in the DPS at the local levels, especially in Niksic but also in Podgorica, bears important political and symbolic meaning. It indicates that the electorate reacts to the poor results of the government and of its overall governance.
In the story about Djukanovic’s return to some of the executive posts, the funniest are voices assuring that the government of the DF will be formed under the leadership of Djukanovic. The public interest into the name of the new prime minister is understandable, especially in the country where the first leader of the strongest party and the election winner is not the head of the government for almost two years. Yet, quarter-century long rule of one party or coalition is still more acceptable than the option of equally lengthy one-man rule. The confidence in Luksic in comparison to his older party colleagues is thus relatively high in international circles.
Ahead of the presidential election, both the old government and the old opposition will need to decide on its candidates relatively quickly: the DPS, between Djukanovic and Vujanovic, and the DF, SNP and Positive Montenegro on the joint candidate, capable of gaining support of minority parties.