The balance of impotence

The phrase from the title of this text was employed recently by Miodrag Lekić, leader of Democratic Front, while trying to explain current relations in the ruling coalition. It might be that Lekic was right and that he objectively depicted relations between the major and minor partner in the ruling coalition. Yet, it seems that in Montenegro both the government and the opposition, in the widest sense, are marked by the balance of impotence.

The Government fails to improve the state and the society. Opposition fails to gain public trust by offering a realistic political platform. The balance of impotence.

The Government fails to deliberate itself from the rooted behavioral patterns (corruption, abuses, conflict of interests, politicized recruitment, poor selection of cadres). The Government fails to find new models for development of economy and it is trapped in the vicious circle of the wasted models with less means than it ever had at its disposal. The Government demonstrates inability to break with corruption and organized crime with more determination.

By choosing one key topic – fight against corruption and organized crime, opposition narrowed its space for maneuver. It flirts with nostalgia for the past system, with the need to regulate unjust regional and global spheres and woos to the demands for more money from the state budget. These demands, however, are harmful in the long term. Instead of creating new political, values’ and ideological platforms, which would be attractive for the widest domestic and international public, Democratic Front, the largest opposition formation, is becoming increasingly representative of its largest constituent – New Serbian Democracy. In the past seen as civic, modern and liberal, certain segments of the nowadays Democratic Front start to resemble more New Serbian Democracy than themselves.

It is the rule that within large political families larger constituents overweigh the smaller ones. Some views, opposite to the universal concept of human rights, are expressed within the opposition camp. Simultaneously, the opposition seeks support from the West, whose legacies sometimes criticizes.

The opposition also fails to make a breakthrough in the policy of Montenegro’s NATO integration. The ruling parties capitalized this issue, being awarded by the international reputation and support and stripping the opposition from equal chances in diplomatic relations with Washington and Brussels.

It seems that opposition started feeling comfortable while being in the “political wait room”, under the slogan “being here and being persistent is enough” – the regime will fall one day out of some reason anyway. It is not wonder then that the level of opposition activities decreased and that its ratings match its (in)activity. Given the available information from the parliamentary commissions in charge of electoral legislation, it might easily happen that the “business is done”, while maintaining systemic mistakes which allowed manipulation of elections. Precisely this issue will reveal whether the opposition truly wants and can ensure for election results not to be disputed any more.

It is not only that prime minister is tired. Years have left the trace. Both the opposition and the ruling elite, the pro-government and the opposition media, the majority of disinterested and the minority of critically-oriented NGOs, are not in a good shape. Things are largely reduced to another working day and obligation of repeating what has already been said for many times. Same people, same stances, same arguments. Information provoking reaction of audience are rare.

It is worrying that political reality show is getting more and more media coverage. Senseless and purposeless politicians’ quarrels, skirmishes and incidents, attacks and offenses, vote on irrelevant issues and fabricated issues, recycling, compilations. A lot of talk about politics in its ugliest edition, but little discussion about public policies which shape people’s lives. If there is a discussion about specific policies, it is reduced to the slogans of opposition and slogans of the ruling parties. We accept slogans as truth, depending on who says them. Even the media which are regarded as opposition went further than just publishing information and opinions negative for the Government – they persistently and often publish everything.

Journalists became dependent on politicians, NGOs and analysts. The independent work is decreasing. Research is also scarce. Several good, innovative and promising media initiatives faded out. Newspapers of one and of the other side started resembling each other. The situation is similar in civil society: the number of organizations is decreasing, the proactive approach lacks, and organizations increasingly accept previously set conditions and the role of “implementor”.

For the sake of the future of this state and of the society, we must make a balance between the discussion about politics and discussion about public policies, between the discussion about democracy and discussion about economy. We must try to seek new ideas, innovative approaches, fresh people and solutions, which would be sustainable in the long term.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board

Text was originally published in the Forum section of the daily Vijesti

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