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Venice Commission Urges Montenegro to Revise Draft Law on Government

The Venice Commission said on Tuesday that the Montenegrin authorities should amend the draft Law on the Government because some of its provisions violate the country’s constitution.

“According to the law proposal the prime minister-designate must submit the programme and his cabinet proposal to the parliament within 30 days of the day the Montenegrin President initially suggested the PM-designate, whereas the Constitution has a different wording and time limit,” the Venice Commission said in its opinion, which was requested by Montenegro’s Ministry of Public Administration.

“It appears that the law draft creates new rules which shorten the time given for the formation of government,” the commission warned.

According to the constitution, the prime minister-designate has 90 days to form a government, while parliament must be dissolved if it fails to elect a government within a 90-day period.

The proposed Law on the Government limits the number of ministries to 15 and establishes seven core ministries that cannot be merged with other ministries (justice, defence, internal affairs, finance, foreign affairs, health and public administration).

It also obliges the prime minister-designate to consider gender equality as well as the representation of ethnic minorities in his cabinet.

The Venice Commission acknowledged that an unlimited number of ministries could lead to artificial enlargement of the government and therefore to mismanagement and cronyism.

But it warned that new obligations to the prime minister-designate related to gender equality and national minorities’ representation in the cabinet may be too ambiguous to be efficiently enforced in practice.

The draft law imposes limitations on the outgoing government, such as not to incur any new financial obligations without the approval of parliament and not to make nominations or appointments apart from installing acting officials.

“These restrictions may be justified by the long periods of government serving in a ‘technical capacity’ which Montenegro has recently experienced, but they appear to go beyond the constitution,” the Venice Commision said.

“In some states these types of additional restrictions are matters left to good practice and unwritten constitutional conventions, but if they are to be stipulated as requirements of law, further consideration should be given to their consistency with the constitution,” it added.

In December 2020, then Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic announced that his cabinet would put forward a new Law on the Government by the end of 2021, but this didn’t happen and his government was ousted in February 2022.

The minority government that followed, led by Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, then planned to propose the draft law, but it was ousted on August 19, 2022.

On September 18, Minister of Public Administration Marash Dukaj said that parliament could vote on the draft law by the end of October.

“The proposed Law on the Government should be adopted without unnecessary waiting and delay,” Dukaj told media.

The centrist Europe Now movement won the country’s latest parliamentary election in June 11, but Prime Minister-designate Milojko Spajic has yet to forge a coalition that can command a majority in the 81-seat parliament. The country has continued to be led by the outgoing government since last August.

Source : Balkan Insight