The Economist: Why Milo Djukanovic is Europe’s Most Durable Ruler

By , 12 Apr 2019, 09:49 AM Politics
The Economist: Why Milo Djukanovic is Europe’s Most Durable Ruler Milo Djukanovic, Copyright: Tanjug/Zoran Žestić

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April 12, 2019 - In 1989 he was one of the youngest leaders in Europe. Thirty years later, Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro's president, still young at just 57 years of age, was in power as president, prime minister or head of the ruling party, longer than anyone in Europe. The British magazine "The Economist," writes "Montenegrin monarch: Why Milo Djukanovic is Europe's Most Durable Ruler" on April 11. 

Montenegrins born in the 40s remember the time before Djukanovic. Other European leaders want to know what the secret of his success is, but he says there is no simple explanation. 

On his wall is the portrait of King Nicholas, who was abolished in 1918 after 58 years. Djukanovic does not want to be compared to him, though there may be no choice.

Over the last nine Sundays, thousands of people went to the streets of Podgorica asking for Djukanovic's resignation. The president of Montenegro is, however, not anxious.

In 2016, there was a conspiracy target, which was financed by Russia, in the desire to kill him, and now the Russians are making problems again.

"This is ordinary nonsense," Dejan Mijovic, an opposition politician, said through laughter.

"Democracy in Montenegro is fake, and Djukanovic holds all the levers of power, and now he has to go," Mijovic said.

The Montenegrin united opposition received additional energy thanks to the accusations of the former tycoon who now resides in London.

Since January, Duško Knežević, a former friend of Djukanovic, published information that he hopes to overthrow President of Montenegro.

He described the pattern of corruption throughout the state, and he even released a video that shows that he contributes illegally to Djukanovic's electoral campaign (the Envelope Affair).

Djukanovic said that the case was solved, but that everything else Knezevic is telling is lies of a fugitive from justice (Knežević is suspected of "money laundering").

Knezevic admitted that he violated the law on campaign contributions, but added that it was the only way for someone to deal with a business in a country where Djukanovic recruited and kept everything under control.

However, the affair of Duško Knežević and opposition demonstrations take place, Djukanovic's political survival is remarkable.

In 1989, Djukanovic was a protégé of Slobodan Milosevic, then a Serb leader. But as Milosevic faced a defeat in the war over Kosovo, Djukanovic turned to advocate the reconstruction of Montenegro's independence, lost in 1918 when Yugoslavia was created.

It started in 2006 when it managed to create a rarity in the Balkans - a multiethnic state.

Djukanovic said that he was trying to withdraw from power, but that a new assignment would always be dropped.

Montenegro joined NATO alliances in 2017. In Montenegro, there has never been a change of power in the elections.

Fearing the influence of Russia, Western leaders seem not to be in the mood to try to kill the "cunning" Djukanovic to retreat.

Between 1696 and 1918, Montenegro had seven leaders, who ruled for 32 years on average. One of the secrets of their success was a good balance between opposing clans.

Asked whether the situation in the Montenegrin society is the same, Djukanovic has briskly responded that, unlike previous leaders, he was elected by the citizens.

A recent survey has shown that as many as 71 percent of Montenegrin citizens want the leader to be "strong and determined".

The secret of Djukanovic's success is clientelism.

One official of the ruling party claimed in 2012 that in a snapshot (the "Snimak" affair - an example of the news section of the "Vijesti" portal) four votes in the elections for the ruling party were secured on every single employee in the public sector.

Still, the last demonstrations show that many people are saturated with Đukanović.

"There has been a change of political atmosphere in recent years," analyst Daliborka Uljarević said. Anyone who dares to criticize the work of the Government risks being labeled as an enemy of the state by pro-government media, just as it was the case of Uljarevic.

The political atmosphere is poisonous, and the ruling party and its allies control only 42 out of 81 seats in parliament.

The tycoons from Azerbaijan, Russia, Malaysia, and the UAE have purchased properties and developed a luxury coastal resorts, but many in the country feel that only a small group of people around Djukanovic has been enriched, while the rest are living with low income and poor public services.

Writer Somerset Mogam once called the French Riviera a "sunny place for suspect people". According to “The Economist,” this could be said for Montenegro.

Source: Vijesti

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