Europeanisation meets democracy from below: The Western Balkans on the search for new European and democratic Momentum (WB2EU)

Rebuilding democracy from below: A case for local communities in Montenegro, Nikola Mumin & Marija Popović Kalezić, ÖGfE Policy Brief, 25’2023

Montenegro has been experiencing a crisis in democracy for several years now. This Policy Brief explores the role that local communities (LCs) have and/or can have within the context of democratic elections, democratic governing, and institutional reforms in Montenegro. The authors of this Policy Brief argue that through the development of local communities and their civil input from below, through giving them space, both physically and legislatively, for local communities to develop as separate governing bodies in relation to local governments, state governments, and the National Assembly, Montenegro can help accelerate the reforms that are necessary for the country to become a part of the EU, improve the socio-economic position of vulnerable groups in multiple parts of the state, and decrease social and political inequality among different individuals and groups. The democratic potential that lies in local communities, as legally defined governing bodies, needs to be utilised in order to address the ongoing crisis of democratic governing in Montenegro and help the country accelerate key reforms in the EU accession process.

Policy Recommendations

  1. Local communities at the outset must have their own working spaces, as well as professionalisation of the individuals working within them, whose work will be remunerated by the municipality.
  2. All local communities should open bank accounts, and municipalities should allocate specific funds from the budget for them. Control over fund outflows from the bank accounts of local communities should be carried out by local communities. Official email addresses and dedicated websites should be set up for more efficient communication with citizens, ensuring complete transparency.
  3. Local communities should have a compiled population register for their locality on their websites.

The principle of decentralisation, as a key principle of local governance, as well as the legal solution defining the work of local communities in Montenegro, thus do not exist.

The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU project. The project aims at the establishment of a network of renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, universities, higher education institutes and policy centres from the Western Balkans, neighbouring countries and EU member states that will be most decisive for the enlargement process and Europeanisation of the region in the upcoming years. The WB2EU project is co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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