The Montenegrin ruling caste has borne post-election shock well and is doing what is smartest for it to do: everything is fine, it is saying; we won. It's true that we didn't win like we thought we would but the important thing is that the idea of independence drew the vote of a majority and thus affirmed a trend which cannot be stopped, as Djukanovic himself has said. Nevertheless, the scheduling of a referendum will be put off and talks with Belgrade will begin.
And really, where's the failure here? For they really did win the elections.
Accordingly, Predrag Bulatovic and Dragan Soc are aware today that a referendum hardly represents any kind of threat to them. If they boycott the referendum, as they plan to do, they will expose themselves to accusations that they are afraid of taking the challenge like heroes and that they are preventing the implementation of the will of a majority of citizens of Montenegro by obstruction. To which the carefree will be able to respond that a boycott shouldn't bother the side with the majority at all. And that will be the end of a (constitutional) secession from Yugoslavia, as well as the potential beginning of a crisis which, considering the extent of the split in the society, may be inescapable. This equation may be modified, perhaps, if the emboldened Bulatovic and Soc decide not to boycott. Considering the results and assessing the tendencies which can justifiably be foreseen in the upcoming period, it is entirely possible that fighting would break out during Djukanovic's referendum. This is, despite everything, quite a risk.
According to Srdjan Bogosavljevic of the Strategic Marketing Agency, which together with CeSID and CEMI, did the assessments according to which the new structure of the parliament was known only two hours after the polling stations closed, the fact of the matter is that Djukanovic and his party have already passed the zenith of their popularity. Every subsequent result can only be worse. Consequently, the claim that the victory of the independence option is a historical inevitability is simply not accurate.
Djukanovic based his campaign for state independence on economic arguments. A vision was created that an independent Montenegro would be able to more easily pay back its debts, that it would consolidate economically more quickly and that it would join Europe before Serbia (Yugoslavia) did. Many people in Montenegro came to believe this and why wouldn't they? If we want to be completely honest, many people in Serbia believed it, too. Suddenly it turns out, at least according to Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus, that the average Montenegrin owes more, not less, than his compatriot in Serbia and that Montenegro doesn't have a single resource, besides foreign aid and smuggling, on which to base its economic optimism; or at least Milo Djukanovic, an economist by profession, didn't make much effort to explain what that resource might be.
As far as foreign support is concerned, that's where the true catastrophe lies. The European Union has expressed its support for a democratic Montenegro within a democratic Yugoslavia; from Russia we heard an appeal to Montenegrin citizens not to fall for "separatist demagoguery" (for shame!); and George Bush sent Vojislav Kostunica his congratulations for some federal holiday seven days early just to get across what he thought of Montenegrin independence. Foreign aid will no longer be as generous as before; worst of all, in the future it will be part of a "package". Therefore, Montenegro, get your bowl out and off you go to see Mladjan Dinkic, the governor of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, who's got the soup kettle on. It sounds bad but that's how it is.
The Montenegrin government has not announced that it is giving up its historic project but considering everything that has transpired beforehand, that wasn't expected. Djukanovic cannot shift from fifth gear into reverse; at the same time, he doesn't see how he could even theoretically gain independence, even if he were to decide to continue with his program of defiance of the international community and its re-education which, members of the DPS say, has already proven successful on several occasions; for example, regarding introduction of the dual currency system. Failure to implement the fundamental goal - independence - certainly will not strengthen the ruling coalition and it is of no consolation that the national integrationist bloc doesn't really look like a solid alternative capable of massively drawing voters, either. Even though, who knows; they could get better, unlike Djukanovic's alliance whose room to maneuver is extremely narrow. Simply, a move that would open good prospects cannot be seen.
The theory of Milo Djukanovic as a hypermodern version of Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Serbia and Yugoslavia is currently fashionable in Serbia. This was publicly stated by sociologist Laslo Sekelj on BK Television while the initial results from Montenegro were just coming in and was later mentioned by others as well.
The argument is as follows: a young man from the old Communist establishment, the president of the state from the age of 28, a politician of unquestionable stature, a revered authority followed by subordinate party officials even when they have a different opinion, has forgotten what it's like not to be in power. He looks on the other participants in the political match from above; he has moved away from reality and begun to consider himself a "player" on the international scene who is simply no longer inspired by local conditions. And the voters followed him simply because they are used to following a leader.
In Djukanovic's defense, it should be said that he immediately sized up the situation and, in an interview for an Italian paper, announced dialogue with Belgrade, unanimously considered to be the only so-so way out of a stalemate; besides, he is avoiding direct dialogue with members of the opposition in Montenegro which would be much, much more difficult for him. And again, like Milosevic, Djukanovic defines who will be his partner on the other side, choosing Djindjic as "the man of Serbia's future", and rejecting Kostunica as "a man of the past". Djindjic is unlikely to be appreciative of this kind of advertising.
The acceptance of talks with Belgrade demonstrates the situation which he caused is currently beyond resolution: after everything that has transpired, it is senseless to discuss the modalities of a joint state with Djukanovic. On the other hand, there is no one else.
This has definitively confirmed yet another new development in this story, the entrance of Serbia on the scene, whose leadership so far has gazed coldly from blue ridged Mt. Avala, ready to endure yet another slap on the face in the form of Montenegrin secession. Now Belgrade will unexpectedly and finally be able to and forced to say something and the integrationists in Montenegro will finally get their natural ally despite the fact that a part of the leadership in Belgrade views that alliance with certain discomfort.
The Montenegrin liberals are a wonder of the world. Only two points of their program can be determined: an independent Montenegro and entry into the European Union. Unfortunately, the later effort isn't exactly like a Red Star Fan Club membership drive where anyone who wants to can join. Further characteristics of the Liberal Alliance include overemphasis on state symbolism; they like to romanticize the dynastic past; all in all, suspicious material for creating a civic state. Moreover, officials of the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro (LSCG) were forced to disavow the provocations of their audiences during some of their public presentations, qualifying them as undesirable "anti-Serb nationalism". How sick this idea is can best be seen if we realize that the liberals aren't some separate and distinct people, despite all ethnogenetic theories and Duklja academies, but the same Montenegrins, ethnically and culturally close to the Serbs, as those in the "Together for Yugoslavia" coalition.
As far as the Montenegrin Muslims are concerned, according to Srdjan Bogosavljevic, they are very supportive of the idea of a Montenegrin state; they speak "the Montenegrin language" (not Bosniak); they have no political demands; and they have not demonstrated in their thinking the consistency essential for further sociological investigation. For example, when asked if they have relatives in Serbia, they will answer that they do not; however, when asked if they have relatives in Sandzak, they will answer that they do.
Be as it may, not even the greatest international champions of political correctness are cultivating hope in the stabilizing role which minorities play in this region (with the notable exception of the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina), and they are especially reluctant to experiment with the Albanians, regardless of the fact that they are worthy citizens of the state of Montenegro.
Suddenly a situation has been created in which everyone is doing the opposite of what the West, the chief financier of this entire attraction, just like in Serbia, wants.
In a word, the results of the Montenegrin elections are only somewhat different than expected but everything that has happened since then is the complete opposite of what it was before. In the language of Eastern philosophy, Milo Djukanovic did win the elections and hit the target but he has missed everything else.