Early elections look ever more likely in Montenegro after the largest bloc in government, the Democratic Front, joined growing calls for early elections or a reshuffle ahead of a no-confidence vote set for February 4.

Pressure Rises Within Montenegro’s Crumbling Govt for Early Polls

Montenegrin parliament session in Podgorica. Photo: Parliament of Montenegro

The Democratic Front, the largest bloc in Montenegro’s coalition government, has called for negotiations on a reshuffle or early elections, as parliament scheduled February 4 for a proposed vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic’s shaky and disunited government.

One of the Democratic Front leaders, Andrija Mandic, on Thursday said the current crisis should be solved within the ruling majority, warning that the opposition and former ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, shouldn’t be allowed back into control.

“The Democratic Front will try to hold talks with the leaders of the ruling parties to reach a solution because only the Democratic Party of Socialists benefits from these quarrels. If we cannot agree on a new government, early elections are the only solutions,” Mandic said.

The political crisis within the ruling majority escalated on January 19, when the smallest ruling bloc, Black on White, and opposition parties, proposed a no-confidence motion in the government, saying they needed to see if it still had the support of the majority in parliament.

The no-confidence proposal came after, on January 17, the leader of Black n White, Deputy PM Dritan Abazovic, called for the formation of a minority government to overcome the political stalemate.

Prime Minister Krivokapic and others accused Abazovic of proposing political fraud and called for his dismissal, and for Minister of Finance and Social Care Milojko Spajic to become the new Deputy PM.

On Friday, the government proposed shortening parliament’s mandate as a way of moving to early elections, while speaker Aleksa Becic scheduled the vote for February 3. Abazovic’s dismissal will be voted on the same day.

Media reports said that Black on White and the opposition could shortly propose speaker Becic’s dismissal instead.

Under the rules of procedure, all votes must have the support of at least 41 MPs in the 81-seat chamber to pass. That means that shortening parliament’s mandate and Abazovic’s dismissal must have the support of at least four opposition MPs to pass.

While the opposition and the Black on White have accused Krivokapic of violating the constitution, some lawyers warned that the government has no power to propose shortening parliament’s mandate.

“According to the constitution, parliament cannot be dissolved during a state of war, a state of emergency or if a no-confidence motion against the government is initiated,” a former head of the Constitutional Court, Blagota Mitric, told the public broadcaster.

“If the parliament supports a no-confidence vote the current government is in a so-called technical mandate and has no right to make any important decisions, including dissolution of the Assembly,” he added.

The government was elected on December 4, 2020. by 41 votes from three coalitions – the pro-Serbian For the Future of Montenegro, Peace is Our Nation and Black on White. The three blocs won a slender majority of 41 of the 81 seats in parliament in August 2020, ousting Milo Djukanovic’s DPS.

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