Democracy is difficult to be learned and build in Montenegro

On the occasion of 15 September – The International Day of Democracy, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) warns to alarmingly deep polarization of the society, which brings into question the already weak democratic standards and practices in the country.

In August 2020, Montenegrin citizens used their opportunity to change the previous authorities in the elections. In those elections, the largest number of citizens since gaining independence was registered at the polls. Democracy means that citizens participate actively in politics and hold their governments accountable in the elections.

CCE points out that a year after the parliamentary elections there are no expected improvements in the establishment of key reform and democratic standards, and that society is going toward radicalization, while political decision-makers are guided by particular interests. In the relevant international reports, Montenegro is also classified in the category of transitional or “hybrid regimes”, which represents a regression in the comparison to the previous period when it was described as a partly consolidated democracy.

The development of democracy in Montenegro this year bears additional tests. That is why it is of crucial importance for citizens to be politically active, to freely express their opinion, to use their rights and freedoms in order to become actors in shaping Montenegro whose focus will be citizen, not any interest or similar structure.

CCE reminds of promises of the new government related to the fight against corruption and organized crime, depoliticization of state administration and the establishment of the merit-based system, as well as an acceleration of the process of accession to the European Union through meeting the set benchmarks and standards for certain chapters. These priorities should not be put behind the interest of any religious community, especially because of the interest of preservation of the civic concept of Montenegro which is the only one that enables democracy.

Democracy is to be learnt and built for a long time, but it is easy to be destroyed. It is not enough to bring in the multi-party system or to change the authorities after 30 years. There is a need to selflessly build democratic, independent and professional institutions and control mechanisms, but above all – to have responsible citizens.

Montenegro is going through a challenging period, without unanimity on what kind of country we want, with divisions that take it back decades.

It is the obligation of all decision-makers, and above all the authorities, to go back to real priorities and gather other political and social structures around them, while this International Day of Democracy should be a reminder to the necessity of revitalisation of democratic values.

The International Democracy Day is celebrated on 15September. It is established by the UN General Assembly, aimed at encouraging governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy.

Željka Ćetković, Active Citizenship Programme Coordinator