The Europeanization of Political Parties in Montenegro

By Vuckovic, Vladimir | Romanian Journal of European Affairs, September 2016 | Go to article overview

The Europeanization of Political Parties in Montenegro


Vuckovic, Vladimir, Romanian Journal of European Affairs


1. Introduction

The article seeks to examine the process of Europeanization of the political parties of Montenegro, a country which is not yet an EU Member State. Rather, Montenegro has the status of a candidate country for the EU membership, and is currently positioned as a frontrunner among the Western Balkans (WB) states. Like in many other European countries, Montenegrin parties play a crucial role in the country's political processes and, thus, undoubtedly affect the domestic changes. Therefore, for the purpose of this research, it is of great importance to determine the scope and the outcome of the EU impact on Montenegrin parties as the main factors of domestic change by observing the top-down approach of European integration on political actors.

In accordance with the aforementioned, the main research line of the paper is to determine whether the Montenegrin parties have decreased or increased their interest in the concept of Europeanization in the period between the two parliamentary election rounds in 2009 and 2012, bearing in mind the remarkable progress which has been made by Montenegro in the European integration process. By using a methodological framework, the article attempts to provide the answer based on the defined research question: have EU polices become prominent in the election manifestos of Montenegrin political parties between the parliamentary elections of 2009 and 2012? Furthermore, the intended contribution of the paper is to identify the current level of Europeanization among the Montenegrin parties by analysing their manifestos in the context of European integration. By focusing on political parties as the main domestic political actors (not on civil society actors, veto players etc.), the paper aims at reducing the possibility for the creation of research gaps, given the role they play in every society, including Montenegrin. However, one article limitation may be caused by the author's choice to examine Montenegro as a single case study rather than the whole Western Balkans region (as a single unit). On the other hand, the conducted empirical analysis, along with the description of recent external and internal events within the single case study could constitute a suitable framework for providing new scientific data, as well as for the enhancement of current scientific knowledge related to this particular field.

The paper has the following structure: The first part of the article analyses different theoretical approaches to the concept of Europeanization of the WB in order to present various theoretical debates. Along with the examination of Montenegrin post-referendum politics and society, this part of the article tries to provide an overall empirical case study of both internal and external factors which undermine the process of Europeanization of Montenegro. The second part of the paper attempts to present the outcomes of the conducted empirical content analysis of the Montenegrin parties' election manifestos during the parliamentary elections in 2009 and 2012. Finally, the third part of the article tries to provide discussions and conclusions based on the findings of the empirical analysis.

2. Current developments

Among the academia and political elites, there is a generally accepted view that the process of Europeanization of the Western Balkan countries (WB)2 has become much more challenging, demanding and complex than it was the case with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Unlike the Eastern enlargement policy, which can be evaluated as a successful EU foreign policy, the WB face numerous serious obstacles, both internal and external, which prevent smooth reforms of their political, economic and social system. The historical legacy, ethnic and religious issues, border issues, return of refugees, secessionist movements, rise of nationalism based on ethnic differences, strength of national identities, contested states, limited statehood, weak state capacities, clientelism, corruption, organized crime, as well as the dysfunctional economy, are some of the issues which significantly hinder the development of the WB (Elbasani 2013; Börzel 2011; Börzel and Risse 2012; Keil 2013; Beiber: 2011; Noutcheva and Aydin-Düzgit 2012; Freyburg and Solveig 2010; Dzihic and Wieser 2008). …

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