Comment 21 Oct 16

Paradox of Western Support for Montenegro’s ‘Godfather’

By continuing to bet on Milo Djukanović, the West and the EU risk falling into the ‘stability-versus-democracy’ trap - and discrediting the values they say they wish to uphold.

Florian Bieber
BIRN
Graz
Montenegro's Prime Minister and long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists leader Milo Djukanovic smiles after claiming victory in parliamentary elections. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP

Last Sunday, Milo Djukanović won his ninth parliamentary elections and consolidated his reputation as the ultimate survivor not just of Balkan but of European politics. Only kings and queens and Central Asian despots can compare with his longevity.

He came to power in the dying days of Socialist Yugoslavia and has ruled formally or informally ever since, surviving 11 prime ministers and 4 presidents in neighbouring Serbia, not to mention ruling Montenegro through four different countries, first in Socialist Yugoslavia, then in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, followed by the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro and lastly as independent Montenegro.

There is an odd paradox about his and his party’s success. His latest [relative] victory was met with congratulations and messages of support by advocates of NATO integration, while agency reports and newspaper headlines proclaimed a victory for a “pro-Western” candidate.

At the same time, there were serious shortcomings in the electoral process. The interim Interior Minister, hailing from the opposition and from civil society, refused to sign off the electoral roll; NGOs said the list contained many dead voters, allowing for easy manipulation.

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