Time to Decide: A Pre-election Briefing Paper
The extraordinary parliamentary election to be held in Montenegro on 22 April 2001 is focused on the single issue of the republic’s future status, whether in a continued federal union with Serbia, or as an independent state. The election was called following the break-up of Montenegro’s ruling coalition at the end of December 2000 over this very question. Following the ouster of Slobodan Miloševiæ as president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in October 2000, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanoviæ opted to formalise the republic’s break with the FRY, which in practice had already ceased to function in any meaningful sense. On 28 December 2000 two of the parties in the ruling “For a Better Life” (DŽB) coalition, Djukanoviæ’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democratic party (SDP), adopted a new Platform on relations with Serbia, which envisaged a loose association of fully independent states. The anti-independence People’s Party (NS) promptly left the DŽB coalition, thus precipitating the forthcoming election.
This briefing paper examines the key campaign issues and strategies of the main participants in the election. It considers the possible courses that events may take after the election. On the basis of this analysis it makes recommendations to the international community as well as to the political actors in Montenegro and Serbia as to policy options during and after the election period. The options for Montenegro’s future relationship with Serbia, the issues that will need to be resolved in defining a new relationship and the possible consequences for Montenegro and for the region of a Montenegrin move towards independence are discussed at length in the ICG report Montenegro: Settling for Independence? The present briefing paper concentrates on the immediate issues connected with the election campaign.