Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic on Monday set Oct. 16 for parliamentary elections regarded as crucial for his country’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO. The smallest of the former Yugoslav republics, Montenegro opened accession talks with the European Union in 2011 and was invited to join NATO in December. But to progress on both fronts, it needs to step up the fight against corruption and show its electoral process is transparent and fair.
Election authorities in Montenegro have named incumbent Filip Vujanovic as the winner of Sunday’s presidential election, with 51.21 percent of the vote. The opposition have cried foul, calling for an EU investigation. The election commission in Montenegro named incumbent Filip Vujanovic as the narrow winner late on Monday, after both candidates claimed victory in the presidential poll. However, the commission cautioned that these were preliminary results, still subject to change. Both sides had complained about the length of time it took to publish the results in a small country with around half a million eligible voters, only 60 percent of whom cast their ballots. Vujanovic, running for a third term in office, secured 51.2 percent of the vote, according to the official results. Vujanovic, president since 2003, represents the same Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) that control the country’s legislature. Although Montenegro’s constitution states that a president can serve only two terms, the Constitutional Court ruled prior to the vote that Vujanovic’s first term did not count because it began before Montenegro’s 2006 independence from Serbia. PDS official Caslav Vesovic said the election commission’s result “removes all doubt over who the citizens chose as president of Montenegro, and they chose Filip Vujanovic.”
Montenegro’s opposition refused on Monday to accept a third term for President Filip Vujanovic, a stance that could trigger instability in the tiny Adriatic state seeking European Union membership. Montenegrins were still awaiting the official results of Sunday’s closely fought election for the largely ceremonial post that both sides said they had won. Both Vujanovic and his opposition challenger, former diplomat Miodrag Lekic, claimed victory. The state electoral commission has until 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Tuesday to announce the official result. The dispute looked set to usher in an unstable period for the ex-Yugoslav republic of 680,000 people, which last year embarked on the long process of membership talks with the EU.
Both sides claimed victory in a presidential election in Montenegro on Sunday, raising the prospect of a dispute over the largely ceremonial post in the tiny Adriatic country as it bids to join the European Union. With no independent exit poll or official word from the state electoral commission, both incumbent Filip Vujanovic and opposition challenger Miodrag Lekic took to the airwaves to announce they had won. Lekic compared his rival’s claim to a “coup d’etat”. The president is largely a figurehead for Montenegro’s 680,000 people, with real power vested in the prime minister. But a Lekic victory would set up an awkward cohabitation and deal a significant blow to the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) after more than two decades in power.
Montenegro’s president called a parliamentary election on Tuesday for October 14, some six months ahead of schedule, as the ruling coalition seeks a fresh mandate for talks on joining the European Union. The announcement by President Filip Vujanovic followed a vote by lawmakers last week to dissolve parliament and head to early polls after the EU opened accession talks late last month with the Adriatic ex-Yugoslav republic of 680,000 people.
The Presidency of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, on Monday said it had decided to initiate a shortening of parliament’s term in order to pave the way for early elections. The party had also reached a broad agreement with its Social Democrat coalition partners on their joint participation in the election, it added. Caslav Vesovic, DPS spokesperson, said early elections were needed for the next steps in the EU accession process, which must be dealt with by a new government over a full term in office. Montenegro started membership talks with the EU at the end of June.
Montenegro’s president said on Thursday his party might seek an early parliamentary election this year rather than next if the European Union, as expected, launches membership talks with the Adriatic state in June. The ex-Yugoslav republic of 680,000 people is due to hold parliamentary polls around March 2013, but President Filip Vujanovic suggested the government could seek a fresh mandate from voters in autumn this year if the EU opens talks. Vujanovic, a senior member of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, said other countries bidding to join the EU had also sought a clean slate before tackling the demanding process of negotiation, which in Montenegro’s case will include dealing with the country’s deep-rooted organised crime and corruption.