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INFO   :::  Projects > Archives > The Helsinki Charter: Promoting Serbia's Europeanization > HC No. 141-142 > Text



A Letter from Montenegro


By Igor Peric

Will Montenegrin Premier and leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists /DPS/ Milo Djukanovic keep his promise and withdraw from politics - completely or just resign his premiership - and who will inherit him at party helm and who in his prime ministerial seat - these are all the questions that are now preoccupying the general public and disturbing the leadership of the ruling party.

Many dilemmas, even more unknowns and let alone misunderstandings among DPS top officials face the next party convention scheduled for mid-2011 at which Djukanovic is expected to nominate his successor acceptable to everyone.

If he fails in that DPS might face a "schism," the media and political circles speculate.

DJUKANOVIC - VUJANOVIC: Differences between the Premier and the President of the Republic and Vice-President of DPS Filip Vujanovic are under the magnifying glass of the media.

Prognoses are different, speculations many, while the differences between the two top leaders of Montenegro's biggest party are best known just to the two of them. And to yet another person - Svetozar Marovic.

Though thanks to his office and the media image of an interlocutor with quizzical discourse of a philosopher and entrepreneur in the same body Marovic has presented himself for years as a candidate capable enough to take over any office whatsoever, even at the cost of the highest one in the state, he is obviously not the right solution for DPS (Djukanovic).

The party needs to look after its stability. To extent to which that will be possible depends on Djukanovic's moves.

According to Milos Basic, professor at the Podgorica Faculty of Political Sciences, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic's chances to replace Premier Milo Djukanovic are very good once the latter withdraws from all offices. "Of all alternative solutions for Djukanovic's heir that are circulated in DPS, Vujanovic's prospects are the best," says Besic adding that Vujanovic already sees himself as DPS leader.

However, Besic told the media that such a scenario could lead to erosion of confidence among DPS membership. Hence, dissatisfied with the alternative solutions offered by their party a part of membership might turn to SDP and its recognizable leader, Ranko Krivokapic.

IDENTITY: Monolithic at first glance, DPS has rested on the balance of at least two concepts-factions for all these years. That has been opportune for the party itself and provided it an upper hand vis-a-vis competition. The party's bivalent play with a good guy and a bad guy secured it support from "both" wings of the Montenegrin heterogeneous society torn between Montenegro and Serbia, one church or the other, one name for a language or another...

The upcoming, "politically hot" autumn will show whether this game is still valid or turns into a stumbling bloc.

The differences between the Premier and the President are manifest most of all in crucial identity issues: language, state symbols and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.Vujanovic's stands on these issues partly correspond to the opposition's, notably to the stands of the Socialist People's Party considered, over past several years, a reformed political force with considerable social and civilian affiliation.

Many take that the flames of an interparty struggle are fed along the lines of these manifest cracks personified by Djukanovic and Vujanovic.

For instance, Vujanovic shows understanding for the local protocol in Pluzine according to which national anthem is not played at the ceremonial session to mark the day of the municipality attended by the President of the Republic. This plays into the hands of the opposition that objects the wording of some verses.

The gap between the two top leaders was more than evident when language was defined for the educational system. While Vujanovic was ready to negotiate with the opposition on the status of the Serb language before the parliamentary vote, Djukanovic caught him unawares by giving a specific order to MPs. According to the media, the outcome of the parliamentary debate was known before the outcome of Vujanovic's negotiations with the opposition.

After that, the opposition attempted to overtly confront Vujanovic and Djukanovic by calling on the former to deny his signature under the "language law." However, Vujanovic signed the law.

UNCERTAINTY: Is another big bang possible after the 15-year-old schism in DPS?

Djukanovic's political retirement could produce an effect similar to that in 1997 and that would face Montenegro with a problem, says the ex-leader of the People's Party, Novak Kilibarda. "No harm would be done should DPS disintegrate if the opposition is strong and has charismatic leaders. But with the opposition as it is, the party's disintegration into two or more wings would be a loss," Kilibarda told the media not long ago, adding that Vujanovic's overt flirt with the opposition is fruitless.

According to him, key issues in Montenegro can be solved only if it has charismatic leaders such as Djukanovic. For Kilibarda, no one else with such charismatic potential is in sight. And that is bad for Montenegro the mentality of which needs strong leaders, he adds.

On the other hand, professor Milos Besic sees Vujanovic as a quite possible heir to Djukanovic. In his view, the incumbent Montenegrin President could compensate the lack of personal charisma with the party's political power.

Judging by Prof. Svetozar Jovicevic's estimates, the actual schism in DPS could take place even before the party convention in 2011. The schism would affect the overall political life in Montenegro but the consequences are nothing to anxious about, he says.

According to Jovicevic, given that he has no influence over the majority of party membership the tactics of the Montenegrin President and DPS vice-president, Filip Vujanovic, is the one of seeking alliance with a part of the opposition that treats him more favorably - does not link him with big scandals.

If would be good for Montenegro to rid itself of Djukanovic's charisma, says Jovicevic.

It is hard to prognosticate the balance of political powers in Montenegro in 2011. Djukanovic cannot find an heir of his proportions within his party. No even close to his...

That's a common stand of all those who support him and acknowledge the realities with heavy heart. And that's the common stand of all Djukanovic's opponents who see their chance in these realities.



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