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Centrist Movement Leader Designated as New Montenegro PM

Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic on Thursday nominated the leader of the centrist Europe Now movement Milojko Spajic as the country’s designated prime minister.

At the June 11 parliamentary elections, the Europe Now movement won 24 seats in the 81-seat parliament, while the opposition bloc led by the Democratic Party of Socialists won 21 seats.

During consultations with the president on the candidates for designated prime minister, the leaders of Democratic Montenegro, two ethnic Albanian coalitions, the Bosniak party, the Croatian Civic Initiative and the pro-Serb Socialist People’s Party all supported Spajic’s candidacy.

Spajic had refused to negotiate with the opposition Democratic Party of Socialists and outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic’s civic movement URA.

Milatovic said that Spajic currently has the support of 44 MPs, a majority.

According to the constitution, Spajic has 90 days to propose his cabinet to the government and secure the support of at least 41 MPs.

“From Spajic and the other parties in the negotiations, we expect responsibility and expediency in this process. We need a stable pro-European government that will be focused on the economy and initiates judicial and electoral reforms,” Milatovic told a press conference.

“Spajic has been given a great responsibility and if he is unable to form a government, he can return the mandate and I will propose a new candidate,” he added.

Spajic, 36, was Minister of Finance and Social Care in a non-partisan expert government that was formed after a historic win by three opposition blocs over the Democratic Party of Socialists in 2020.

In December 2021, parliament adopted Europe Now’s fiscal reform programme and increased the minimum wage from 250 to 450 euros, while average salaries increased from 530 to 670 euros.

The programme was created by Spajic and then Minister of Economic Development Jakov Milatovic to reduce the gap between the minimum wage and the prices of basic goods, and also abolished healthcare contributions, which the opposition and some parties in the ruling coalition criticised.

Despite public support for his economic reforms, Spajic was also criticised by political opponents and civil society organisations for a lack of transparency.

In December 2020, the government took out a 720-million-euro loan from BofA Securities, Citigroup, Erste and the Societe General group to keep public finances stable, but the agreement was made without consulting parliament.

In June this year, outgoing Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic and Interior Minister Filip Adzic called on the prosecution to investigate claims that fugitive South Korean cryptocurrency trader Do Kwon had financial relations with Spajic.

Abazovic claimed that Do Kwon sent a letter to state officials claiming that he financed Europe Now, but Spajic denied the claims. On June 19, the Special State Prosecution opened an investigation about those claims.

Also on June 19, the Basic Court in Podgorica sentenced Do Kwon and his associate, Han Chang-joon, to four months in jail each for falsifying their identity documents.

The early elections won by Europe Now in June followed almost three years of almost constant political turbulence and the fall of two governments. The most recent of those governments, led by Abazovic, came to office in April 2022.

Source : Balkan Insight