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Montenegro: Reforms slowed down due to political polarization

“The deep polarization between the new ruling majority and the opposition lasted during 2020 and intensified in the post-election period. “Hot relations and mistrust have fueled frequent escalations and further exacerbated political divisions, including within the ruling majority,” the Montenegro Progress Report said.

He points out that disagreements between the executive and the legislature have slowed down the work of reforms.

Regarding electoral reform, the report concludes that progress has been slow due to initial delays and periodic boycotts.

“Parliament dismissed the president of the State Election Commission (SEC) in June 2021, the appointment of a new president is still pending in parliament. Continued efforts are needed to increase the professionalism, transparency and accountability of the SEC,” the document reads. which TVCG had an overview.

It is further stated that, despite the inter-party agreement that all local elections be held on the same day, the legal framework still provides for their gradual implementation, leading to an almost constant pre-election campaign at national and local level.

It remains to provide a credible, independent and effective institutional response to the so-called “envelope issue”.

The report also notes that the lack of constructive engagement of all parliamentary actors prevented meaningful political dialogue, further polarizing the political landscape.

It added that the ruling majority often initiated or passed laws under an accelerated procedure, without the necessary public consultation and without considering the appropriate conditions for EU accession.

The composition of the current parliament is said to be “unprecedented” in Montenegro’s history.

“So far, parliament has not been able to secure the required 2/3 majority for important appointments of judges, so the main functions of the judicial system are still filled on the basis of incumbent ministers,” the report notes.

The report notes that Montenegro is moderately prepared to fight organized crime.

It is said that the number of organized crime cases that have been investigated and prosecuted has continued to increase, and the number of cases that have been tried in courts has almost tripled.

International police co-operation is well established and continues to yield results, with unprecedented drug seizures abroad.

However, the capacity to tackle tobacco smuggling and money laundering is not yet at the expected level. It is said that Montenegro still has to address some systemic shortcomings in its criminal justice system, including the way in which organized crime cases are handled in the courts.

The document states that despite the Anti-Corruption Agency’s more proactive approach, corruption remains widespread in many areas and is a cause for concern.

“There is a need for a strong political will to address this issue effectively, as well as a strong criminal justice response to high-level corruption,” the document said.

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