Changes do not mean the replacement of one party membership with the other

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses serious concern over the statements of the representatives of the Socialist People’s Party (SNP) that they negotiate with Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapic to get their “proper part” of the seat within the Government “in-depth”. Such an approach is not a reform in the part of the necessary depoliticization of public administration, and it also leads to illegal actions.

If the new government distributes seats “in-depth”, we will have the continuation of the practice of political-party employment of the previous government, the harmful consequences of which have been continuously pointed out by the critically oriented NGO sector, media, then opposition parties that now form a new parliamentary majority, as well as relevant international actors such as the European Commission. It seems that it is now getting a more open and drastic form, and we expect reactions from the professional and interested public, as this is not a change that can democratize and Europeanize Montenegrin society.

The CCE considers that it is not acceptable that the new government strengthens the negative aspects of the work of the previous one. Despite the regulations that prescribe public competitions and a competitive approach, one of the constituents of the new government sets the party membership as a precondition for performing important functions and jobs.

The CCE reminds the new parliamentary majority that not only party officials and party members voted for the change of government, but also 207,238 who opted for the three winning coalitions. It is fair to assume that those 207,238 citizens wanted a change expressed in respect for the rule of law, and not for the “Recording” affair to turn into socially justified behavior, and only for such actions to be carried out by someone else.

Too quickly, the constituents of the new parliamentary majority forgot that they also pointed out the problem of party employment and that they promised merit-based employment. The election manifestos of the new majority do not indicate that they sought the vote of the citizens to break the law and flatter the party comrades but to ensure respect for the law. And this publicly announces that those who are supposed to carry out the employment procedure will commit criminal acts and that some constituents of the new government expect that from them.

Also, within reform efforts and attempts by constituents to put things on a healthier footing, a break with bad practices must be clearly made. Trade-in positions at the top or depth of certain bodies, companies or institutions must not be an acceptable political solution to buy temporary peace and provide a place for those who have won the elections. Political positions that can be negotiated in this manner are at the level of members of the Government.

CCE, among other things, advocates that the appointment of school principals be removed from the scope of the minister’s competence precisely because of the devastating consequences that such politicization has caused to the education system. Today, we hear that the SNP, as a constituent of the new government, wants to trade with these positions as well, even though their officials, when they were in opposition, rightly criticized the outgoing government for this harmful approach.

Do other parties in the new government think similarly? Will they be allowed to submit documents for employment in state bodies with party membership card “for inspection” again, and to what extent will this type of abuse of positive legal regulations of Montenegro be allowed?

The CCE believes that all individual constituents and prime minister-designate must provide without delay, clearly and unambiguously their opinion concerning these requests. Accepting such an approach would mean a step backward in both EU integration and democratic achievements, while citizens were promised to speed up this process and move away from illegal and immoral practices.

Mira Popović, Democratisation and Europeanisation Programme Coordinator