Montenegro must reach fair and free elections

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) estimates that a redundant negligence was made when the State Election Commission (SEC) has decided to publish the preliminary results without the presence of relevant international observers with whom they would thoroughly review the election material and determine a reliable result.

CCE believes that the elections were held in a highly heated atmosphere, which was preceded by the hyperproduction of information regarding widespread abuse of state resources and pressure on voters. Unfortunately, the relevant government authorities have not responded to this professionally, neither have they investigated the allegations publicly expressed, which additionally reinforced doubts about the legitimacy of the election process.

Irregularities have been reported in voter lists, during ballots counting, the cameras in front of the polling stations, insertion of multiple ballots by members of the electoral committee and a number of other procedural irregularities. All of this contributes to the creation of image of Montenegro as a country that is not ready to fully comply with democratic procedures and the will of its citizens. It is necessary to restore the confidence of Montenegrin citizens in the institutions and the electoral process itself, wheras the irregularities referred to in public without adequate response from institutions only further complicate the situation. CCE urges once again all actors of election process to submit required evidence of election irregularities as a contribution to the determination of final and true result of the elections, and calls upon the SEC to review in detail the entire election documentation in the presence of international observers. We insist that special attention is devoted to votes by letter of which there has been even 11,683 which consists 2.28% of the total electorate, or 3.57% of the voters who voted, which is highly important in terms of a very small difference between the presidential candidates and the previously mentioned reasonable doubts about the abuse of state resources.

These elections have shown that the problem of highly politicized election administration in Montenegro can no longer be ignored, since as a consequence we have the anaesthetizia of the institution and the fact that the lack of the necessary capacity directly affected the growing tension on election night not having an answer to what was happening before the eyes of the citizens of Montenegro.

Presidential elections have only further confirmed the thesis that there is no clear distinction between state and party structures in Montenegro, and that precisely this is one of the key challenges for the future path of Montenegro to the EU. The continuity of state resources abuse by the ruling structures through the election process must be stopped, and now the real opportunity for this opens up.

Nikola Đonović, Programme Coordinator