Montenegro’s Capital Finally Gets New Mayor

06 Oct 14

Montenegro’s Capital Finally Gets New Mayor

Months after the local elections, Podgorica is at last to get a new mayor – but opposition parties claim the breakthrough is the result of a political stitch-up.

Dusica Tomovic


Almost five months after the local elections, the Montenegrin capital is finally due to get a new mayor. After a session of the local assembly on Monday, the Education Minister, Slavoljub Stijepovi, will take the post.

After the governing Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, and the Social Democrats, SDP, agreed in September on Stijepovic’s election, the vote in the Podgorica assembly will be only a formality.

The two parties are allies at national level, but had been locked in dispute over the terms of a deal to set up a city government folllowing the municipal polls on May 25.

The parties only resolved the dispute and made a deal to form an administration in September.

The DPS’s insistence on the appointment of Stijepovic as the city’s mayor was one of the key reasons for the failure of previous negotiations with the Social Democrats.

As a condition for the establishment of the new city administration, the SDP sought an audit of all decisions of the former mayor, Miomir Mugasa, who run the city for 14 years.

Over its coming four-year term, the new city government has pledged to construct five swimming pools, a new theatre, a home for the elderly, new roads and more.

The pledges will difficult to achieve, owing to the capital’s financial troubles, and opposition parties have slated the pledges as “deceipt of the citizens”.

During the election campaign, Stijepovic also promised citizens that he will be open to their suggestions, initiatives and problems and will be “available 24 hours a day, seven days a week

“I always keep my promise, with no exceptions,” Stijepovic said.

No single party won a majority in the local elections in Podgorica on May 25, which were marred by numerous irregularities at polling stations.

The DPS, led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, won 29 of the 59 seats in the assembly and only needed one more vote to form an administration. The opposition, comprising the Socialist People’s Party and the Democratic Front, together won 25.

The SDP, in alliance with the Positive Montenegro party, won five seats, which gave them the “kingmaker” role.

Although, during the election campaign, the SDP, led by parliamentary speaker Ranko Krivokapic, demanded a depoliticized city administration and recruitment of staff in public competition, the ruling parties in the city have already agreed on sharing out the most important positions.

Of 81 positions in the new city government, the SDP will get 19, including the post of deputy mayor. The opposition and many analysts have accused the DPS-SDP coalition of illegal appointing city managers and directors of public companies, but also of preventing potential candidates from competing on equal grounds for the new city administration.

“With what they have done they have completely undermined the principle of a professionalized public sector,” one local analyst, Boris Maric, said last week.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)