Podgorica, April 23, 2001

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Thanks to good friends in Podgorica, I was able to be the only foreign journalist to be inside the election headquarters of Milo Djukanovic in the parliament election in Montenegro on April 22. Here is a translation from an article I did for the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. You can read the original version in Norwegian
here.

Montenegro’s leaders disappointed despite election victory

The coalition of Milo Djukanovic received enough votes to create a new government, but even if they appear optimistic, there is wide-spread disappointment

KRISTIAN KAHRS
(Text and photos)
Podgorica, Montenegro

Dragisa Burzan is vice-primeminister in Montenegro, and he is not very happy with the election result. "We have fought against fascism and for a multi-ethnic community for 10 years, and now the fascists have gotten 40 percent of the votes," he said.
Dragisa Burzan is vice-primeminister in Montenegro, and he is not very happy with the election result. "We have fought against fascism and for a multi-ethnic community for 10 years, and now the fascists have gotten 40 percent of the votes," he said.
Won and lost. Djukanovic claims that the Democratic coalition won the election, but that is not the impression left after talking to disappointed party members.

"We lost this election," said a disillusioned member of the party DPS, Djukanovic’s party.

Aftenposten was the only foreign newspaper with access to the inner circles of the Djukanovic alliance Sunday night. Supporters chanted "Ovo nije Srbija"which means "this is not Serbia" and sung battle-songs supporting an independent Montenegro in the lobby of the election headquarters.

But a few floors upstairs the atmosphere was different.

"I’m not happy. Now we have to go in coalition with the Liberal Union, and they are unreliable coalition partners," said Dragisa Burzan. He is vice-prime minister for Montenegro from the party SDP or the Social Democratic Party, a coalition partner to Djukanovic. Burzan is responsible for the relations to Europe.

Celebrated

The coalition for Yugoslavia led by SNP, or Socialist Peoples Party got 40 percent of the votes. This is a group Burzan views as reactionaries.

"We have fought against fascism and for a multi-ethnic community for 10 years, and now the fascists have gotten 40 percent of the votes," he said.

Supporters of the Yugoslavia coalition celebrated getting 40 percent of the votes for the parliament with gun fire and the three finger salute. One of these guys tried to break my camera.
Supporters of the Yugoslavia coalition celebrated getting 40 percent of the votes for the parliament with gun fire and the three finger salute. One of these guys tried to break my camera.
Earlier Sunday night, supporters of the SNP had already started the celebration in Podgorica. Their leader had said that SNP had won the election, and their supporters jumped on cars, shot in the air with pistols and waived with Serbian flags. In addition they tried to break Aftenposten’s camera. Many of the supporters have close ties to the former regime of Slobodan Milosevic, and the press from the West is still the great enemy.

"They have reason for celebration," a laconic Burzan said.

The last decade, the tensions in Yugoslavia has increased, and an increasing number of Montegrins have defined themselves as Serbs. In 1991, nine percent of the population counted themselves as Serbs. After the election on Sunday, 40 percent of them counted themselves as Serbs. Ethnic belonging has become a question of definition.

Nevertheless, the picture is a bit more balanced. In the alliance for Yugoslavia, the Peoples Party are also members. This party was a former coalition party of Djukanovic, and this party is counted as a moderate party, even if they want to maintain the ties to Yugoslavia. The Peoples Party got 11 of 77 mandates in the parliament.

But that doesn’t change that the supporters of the Yugoslavia Alliance have had wind in their sails.

"Those voting for SNP are for the most elderly people. Those who support Djukanovic are younger, and they are not so eager to vote. A friend of mine didn’t bother to vote because it was too cold outside," said one disappointed DPS member, Djukanovic’s party.

"Now I only want to play sad music," he said.

Earlier on the election day, they were sure of victory, maybe even a clean majority. They can forget that now. There are 77 seats in the parliament, and the Djukanovic alliance got support of some 42 percent of the votes winning a narrow victory with 35 seats. The Yugoslavia Alliance got 33 seats, three for the Albanian party and six for the Liberal Union.

Against corruption

The Liberal Union also a party supporting an independent Montenegro, but they react against what they view as a corrupt government.

The Liberal Union does not have very high thoughts about the current Djukanovic government. "We’re happy that Djukanovic did not get a clean majority," said Sasa Markovic who is responsible for international relations in the Liberal Union.
The Liberal Union does not have very high thoughts about the current Djukanovic government. "We’re happy that Djukanovic did not get a clean majority," said Sasa Markovic who is responsible for international relations in the Liberal Union.
"We’re happy that Djukanovic did not get a clean majority," said Sasa Markovic who is responsible for international relations in the Liberal Union.

"Our demand for taking part in a government is a referendum about Montenegro’s future before July," he said.

But he also claims that the Liberal Union is not after power, and they have never been in government position either.

"We only want a technical alliance until the referendum," said Markovic who claims that there is no democracy in Montenegro with Djukanovic as president.

"Djukanovic and the opposition control two separate intelligence organizations, and those are used against us. We have only used 60.000 German marks in the election campaign, while Djukanovic and the opposition have spent millions of marks. The Yugoslavia Alliance get their money from Belgrade," said Markovic

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