Montenegro’s Government Toppled in No-Confidence Vote


The parliament of Montenegro passed a no-confidence motion on the government of Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic on Saturday. With his premiership ending after just four months, Abazovic was the shortest-serving leader since Montenegro’s independence from Serbia in 2006.

After a 12-hour sitting of parliament that began on Friday, 50 out of 81 MPs voted against Abazovic’s coalition government, ending his tenure as prime minister. 

The vote was called by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of President Milo Djukanovic, after Abazovic signed an agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church earlier this month. Critics of the pact say it gives special rights to the church that are not extended to other religions.

Serbs, a majority of whom opposed Montenegro’s independence from Serbia in 2006, make up around a third of Montenegro’s population. Pro-European Montenegrins see the Serbian church as a channel of Serbian and Russian influence in the country.

Abazovic, an ethnic Albanian, insisted that the deal would resolve religious disputes and allow his government to focus on meeting the EU’s requirements for membership. Montenegro has been an EU candidate country since 2010, but a 2021 report by the European Commission found that the country had made only limited progress in tackling political infighting, judicial corruption, and organized crime, particularly tobacco smuggling and money laundering.

Addressing lawmakers after the no-confidence motion, Abazovic suggested that criminal groups influenced the vote. 

“This country will be ruled either by criminals or by citizens,” he said. “And I’m sorry … that organized crime in Montenegro still uses its tentacles to regulate political relations.”