After the elections, the change in the government has opened a space for renewed influence of Serbia and Russia. The impact of the Serbian Orthodox Church pointed out its strong position in Montenegro before and also during the elections. The formation of the new government and its overall composition with great diversity was significantly influenced by this religious factor. Serbian nationalist groups are strategically focused on the representatives of minority ethnic groups, on their religious institutions and political associations in order to combat the „old government“. However, in a deeply divided state on identity issues, an increase of the Orthodox Church as a significant political player presents unwelcomed development.
The new coalition seems to be more reliant on the support from Belgrade and the Serbian Orthodox Church, and they see themselves as a part of the so-called “Serbian Cultural Space”, Belgrade’s answer to “the Russian World”. This idea has its roots in the interpretation of the Orthodox sphere, which is in violation of the rights of other religious groups in Montenegro. On the other hand, the DPS political party has been popular among representatives of other national minorities, who were considered partners for cooperation. At this stage, it is important to realise the role of civil society in Montenegro. Regardless of the new government’s steps, the key is that Montenegro maintains its own vivid Albanian, Bosnian and Croatian minorities’ communities. The idea of free civil society in Montenegro would be dead without their active participation.
Polarisation of the Country?
The current political situation in Montenegro could be coined as the coexistence system, which means that the President is from the opposition party – DPS, while the government coalition consists of political parties that tightly defeated DPS in elections in August 2020. Eventually, that may be a reason for a series of crises when the President will not want to sign laws or acts adopted in the Parliament, where the majority has the government coalition. On the other hand, the new government could marginalise the position of the President himself. Nevertheless, the political system in Montenegro, as it is now, requires cooperation between the two currently conflicting sides in all essential areas for the country itself, including judiciary and security.
Polarisation in Montenegro is significantly visible on morality and humanity issues, which also Marko Savić perceives: „I am also concerned about the views of certain members of the Government. One of them is related to the denial of the genocide in Srebrenica by the [current] Minister of Justice.“ Although they later tried to soften the statement, Justice Minister Vladimir Leposavić clearly questioned the decisions of the international courts on the Srebrenica case at the ministerial hour in the Parliament saying: „he will recognise the crime as genocide when it is unequivocally established”. Marko Savić thinks that this is a big step backwards for Montenegro because they have lived the idea of reconciliation in the region and actively advocated for it so far. Some political parties in the ruling coalitions are inspired by Milosevic‘s policy, which is also known for not recognising the genocide in Srebrenica. Therefore there is a political mix with parties that fight for the European integration of Montenegro, and the others, especially those representing the Serbian minority, that consider Russia as a role model for the polity.