Parliamentary Elections

August 30, 2020


In a surprising victory, the opposition alliance For the Future of Montenegro won the election, bringing an end to the 30 year rule of the DPS. While Djukanovic’s DPS secured the most votes of any one party in the election, together with its traditional partners it failed to gain the seats needed to secure a majority in parliament. Instead, theFor the Future of Montenegro bloc joined in an alliance with the Peace is Our Nation and Black on White coalitions to form a razor-thin majority of 41 seats in the 81-seat chamber. The highly polarized election drove turnout of 76.6%.

The Future for Montenegro alliance has formed a so-called expert government to lead the country, which was approved by the parliament on December 4, 2020. Zdravko Krivokapic, the leader of the For the Future of Montenegro bloc, was elected Montenegro’s new Prime Minister. Dritan Abazovic, leader of the Black on White coalition, was named Deputy Prime Minister. Aleksa Becic, leader of the Peace is our Nation coalition, is the Speaker of the parliament.


  • Unicameral legislature in a parliamentary constitutional republic; there are 81 seats in Montenegro’s parliament; members are elected to a four-year term.
  • Members are elected through a party-list proportional vote; the parliament appoints the prime minister, who is nominated by the president.
  • Voting threshold is 3% to enter into parliament (0.7% for minority groups constituting more than 15% of the population).
  • Incumbent: The center-left, populist Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) led by President Milo Djukanovic, currently leads the ruling coalition with the Social Democrats and several minority parties; the current Prime Minister Dusko Markovic is a DPS member.


  • Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS): led by President Milo Djukanovic; center-left, pro-European; DPS’s decision to bring forward elections ahead of schedule is widely seen as a move to secure a mandate before the full economic effects of Covid-19 are felt.
  • For the Future of Montenegro coalition: right-wing, populist, pro-Serb coalition of opposition parties; parties in the coalition include Montenegro’s main opposition party, the Democratic Front (DF), the Socialist People’s Party (SNP), and the Popular Movement (NP), recently formed by prominent businessman Daka Davidovic, who has close ties to Moscow and the Serbian Orthodox Church; the coalition’s campaign has worked closely with leaders of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro to mobilize support against Djukanovic and the DPS.
  • Peace is our Nation coalition: coalition led by center-right, pro-European DEMOS and centrist, pro-European Democratic Montenegro (DCG) party, together with several smaller liberal parties; the coalition has eschewed the nationalistic rhetoric that has dominated the campaign; reformist, anti-corruption platform.
  • Black on White coalition: led by the United Reform Action (URA) party; center-left, socially progressive green party; pro-European; anti-corruption has been a central part of the coalition’s platform.
  • Bosniak Party: Ethnic Bosniak party; center-right; pro-European.
  • Albanian Alternative Coalition: coalition of two ethnic Albanian parties, the New Democratic Force (Forca) and Albanian Alternative (AA); right-wing, conservative; pro-European.

Impact on U.S. Interests

  • Montenegro joined NATO in 2017 and contributes troops to NATO’s missions in Afghanistan and in Latvia and Poland (Enhanced Forward Presence).
  • Montenegro opened accession talks with the European Union in 2012, has closed 3 of the 35 negotiation chapters, and opened its last remaining chapter in June 2020. Due to recent changes to the EU enlargement process, Montenegro’s membership may be a more distant prospect than its leaders had hoped.
  • China has increased its economic influence in the Western Balkans, including in Montenegro with approximately $1 billion worth of investments (mostly loans); a Chinese corporation is constructing the Bar-Boljare highway (the largest infrastructure project in Montenegro), completion of which was a major campaign promise of the government in 2016 but it has not yet been fulfilled.
  • Russian malign economic influence has also been at play in Montenegro, from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s acquisition of Montenegro’s largest aluminum plant in the 2000s (since relinquished) to Russian real estate purchases. In 2016, Russian GRU operatives allegedly plotted to stage a failed coup ahead of the parliamentary elections, prior to Montenegro’s membership into NATO.

Key Issues to Watch

  • Tensions between the governing coalition and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), fueled by the government’s passage of a controversial law on religious property, have risen further during the campaign. Leaders of the SOC in Montenegro, the country’s largest religious group, have urged their followers to vote against the ruling party and have actively worked with pro-Serb opposition parties to organize protests throughout the summer. In the week before the election, leaders of the For the Future of Montenegro coalition organized a church litany for a procession of protestors in cars. Montenegrin police have filed criminal charges against six SOC priests and the leader of the coalition Zdravko Krivokapic, among others, for endangering public health and disrupted public order (although Montenegro has had relatively few confirmed Covid-19 cases (4,343)).
  • Montenegro’s economy, which relies heavily on the tourism sector, is expected to contract by approximately 9% in 2020. Despite rising unemployment figures, President Djukanovic has campaigned on economic growth and decreasing unemployment.
  • Corruption remains a critical concern in Montenegro. Before the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, the government faced months of anti-corruption protests organized under the banner of “Odupri Se” or “Resist,” spurred by a corruption scandal that revealed the DPS had been allegedly receiving illegal financing for decades, which has cemented its power. Indeed, DPS has been in power since 1990 and Djukanovic has held the position of prime minister or president since 1991. These protests have been partly coopted by the SOC, potentially giving Djukanovic an edge in the election as they are no longer entirely focused on corruption.


Polls from August 2020 place President Djukanovic’s DPS party in the lead, with 35.3% of the vote. The opposition coalition For the Future of Montenegro is polling at 24.7%, followed by the Peace is Our Nation coalition at 16.5%. The Black on White coalition trails behind at 6.6%, followed by the Bosniak Party at 4.8% and Albanian Alternative at 1.9%. It is likely that DPS will win the election but it may have to reach out to additional opposition parties outside its current governing coalition to form a majority, making government formation and governing more difficult.