Montenegro’s ruling coalition government collapsed on Friday after parliament backed a no-confidence motion. The motion was called by minority coalition bloc Black on White and opposition parties, worsening the country’s ongoing political instability.
The no-confidence motion was backed by 43 MPs from Black on White and the opposition, and 11 MPs from ruling Democratic Montenegro. MPs from United Montenegro and Prava Crna Gora voted against, or abstained from, the no-confidence vote.
The vote came after weeks of internal disputes surrounding Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić and his cabinet. Verbal insults and disagreements throughout the session caused parliament speaker Aleksa Bečić to admonish several MPs, calling for breaks to ease the tension ahead of the vote.
Internal disputes were sparked for several reasons, including Montenegro’s stalled EU accession process and the interference of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro’s domestic affairs.
Deputy PM and leader of the United Reform Action (URA) party Dritan Abazović filed a motion for a vote of no-confidence against Krivokapić’s coalition government on 19 January. Krivokapić responded with his own call for a no-confidence vote against Abazović, in addition to a motion to prematurely dissolve the parliament and initiate a snap election.
Krivokapić’s two demands did not make the parliament’s agenda one day prior to the no-confidence vote, indicating the prime minister had lost the support of lawmakers.
One of the leaders of the Democratic Front, Milan Knezevic, then accused Krivokapic and Abazovic of refusing to abide by the results of the parliamentary elections of August 2020.
“Instead of [cooperating] with the Democratic Front, they were lobbying… in Western embassies against us. If Djukanovic’s DPS supports a new government, it will be a betrayal of our electoral win and it will provoke serious instability,” he said.
Abazović said an election would be held “as soon as possible” if an interim minority government could not be formed.
“The goal is that Montenegro comes out of the blockade and forms a government as soon as possible…The worst possible thing is what is happening now, and that is uncertainty,” he said.
Opposition Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) MP Danijel Zivkovic said cross-party negotiations were vital to overcome the current crisis.
“We are ready to negotiate with anyone who wants Montenegro as a stable county and future member of the European Union,” he said.
Friday’s no-confidence vote came just over one year after the coalition government came to power by a slender majority of 41 to 81 seats in parliament, toppling the long-ruling DPS party.