Political and social actors should contribute to reducing radicalization in society

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses its concern that this presidential campaign is being followed by radical expressions of intolerance, which during the past week culminated in the attempt to prevent presidential candidate Jakov Milatović, in Cetinje and Nikšić, from addressing his voters, as well as threats sent through social media to presidential candidates Draginja Vuksanović Stanković and Milo Đukanović and his wife. Such cases are disturbing as they threaten democratic principles and human rights.

The CCE calls on competent institutions to adequately prosecute and sanction all perpetrators of these incidents. It is important that the institutions indicate that this type of disagreement with anyone’s political or other views is not allowed. This is the only way to demonstrate commitment to preserving the democratic character of the electoral process, which is necessary to reduce tensions in the overall social environment.

The CCE points out that these unpleasant events are not surprising, but an expected consequence for all those who carefully follow certain tendencies in society that for a long time show symptoms of concerning radicalization. This was built years ago mainly by political actors with their irresponsible behaviour, offensive speech and exclusivity towards opponents, which was accompanied by the passive attitude of institutions that had to work much harder to suppress all forms of hate speech and speech that calls for discrimination. Consequently, today we have a decline in citizens’ trust in institutions, an unacceptably high level of tolerance for violence, along with strong polarization, which is a framework that favours radicalization.

It is devastating that once again we have election processes accompanied by a tense atmosphere and tensions despite the declarative commitment of the participants to contribute to peace and stability. Montenegrin society needs a peaceful, transparent and inclusive election process, in accordance with international standards and principles of the rule of law. We also need an election process in which the candidates are focused on clear and realistic programmes in the interests of citizens instead of populist campaigns that divide an already deeply divided society.

The CCE points out that Montenegrin society needs a different political paradigm in which politicians, by their actions, build on and strengthen democratic culture through public policies in the best interest of the citizenry, but also their own responsibility and emancipatory role, with communication with political dissenters based solely on reasoned exchange of opinions and idea.

Petar Đukanović, Programme Director