Montenegrin Elections: Alternative to Djukanovic’s Prospectless Policy

By News Front

The main worthy candidates for the parliamentary seats are already pinned down and now are carrying out “pre-election battles”. On the one side are members of the ruling “Democratic Party of Socialists” (DPS) and their leader PM Milo Djukanovic, on the other – members of the opposition coalitions “Democratic Front” (DF) and “Demos”. One of the main controversies between opponents is whether it is necessary to hold the referendum on Montenegro’s accession into NATO.

In this regard, among Montenegrin politicians, a professional journalist and  public figure Marko Milacic is worthy of special attention. Prior to July 2016, he headed the Montenegrin “Movement for neutrality” and then became a leader of the “Resistance to Hopelessness” movement and joined the DF.

Despite the fact that Marko is a young politician, he takes the rightful place in the list of candidates for the Skupština (Assembly) MPs and practically has earned the trust of voters.

This spring, his “Movement for neutrality” launched an online referendum on the country’s entry into NATO. From March 17th to August 1st, 22,538 citizens of Montenegro took part in it; 17,219 casted votes in favor of the neutral status of the country (76.4%), and 5,319 were for NATO membership (23.6%).

What is so special about this referendum, and can you trust the results?

The website, which was specially created for the Internet referendum, has a checkout system using the “People” program. Only residents of Montenegro over 18 years could cast their votes. In this way, attempts to “cheat votes” and affect the results “externally” had been excluded. Over the entire voting period, the system had dropped out 4,231 persons under 18 and who weren’t the citizens of Montenegro.

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The online-platform itself contained no agitation, the participants were offered to make their own choice. The pro-European concept of the site and the domain of the European Union “eu” stressed the landmark of democratic values and impartial ballot.

It is safe to say that the results of the referendum showed an objective attitude of Montenegrins to the idea of joining NATO but not the falsified results, which are often reported by local media.

The referendum has become the largest Internet voting in the modern history of Montenegro and the new effective mechanism for the will of people, excluding the possibility of pressure from the authorities or other stakeholders. It received a strong informational support both at home and abroad, while the voting process and results were covered by the journalistic communities of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, and Poland.

Marko Milacic became an innovator and showed his political courage. Many discussions on conducting the referendum have been held in Montenegro. For obvious reasons the authorities had removed the possibility of holding such a ballot while mass meetings hadn’t brought the intended effect. Milacic found an alternative path, without brawls and bloodshed. The reality, however, dissatisfied the country’s leadership.

One of the key moments of the referendum became Marko’s online press-conference on July 9th, for the journalists covering NATO summit in Warsaw. On the morrow of it a number of German Parliament MPs and representatives of the Italian “left” parties offered their cooperation to Milacic.

The “Movement for neutrality” gained support from the famous public and political figures. For instance, American political scientist Michael Parenti, American sociologist and philosopher Immanuel Wallerstein, Bundestag MPs from “Die Linke” party Inge Höger and Alexander Noah, as well as representatives of other “left” movements in Germany are among the supporters of the non-alignment policy of Montenegro into NATO.

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Djukanovic’s aggressive imposing of Euro-Atlantic integration has superimposed on the already existing discontent with the government in society. Socio-economic stagnation that lasts for many years and affected the strata of the people became the reason for this. It is unlikely that the forthcoming elections will adjust basic social and political differences, yet the sounding name of the “Resistance to Hopelessness” movement and attempts of its leader to strengthen the ranks of the opposition offer hope for positive changes.

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