In 2003, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) became the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro - a loose federation giving each of the participating member states the right to break away from the state union after a 3-year period following a referendum.
On 21 May 2006 Montenegro had a referendum on independence which was supported by a majority of 55.5% and declared itself independent on 3 June 2006. On 5 June 2006 Serbia – in accordance with the Constitutional Charter of the State Union Article 60 – declared that it was the successor state to the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
In October 2007 Montenegro adopted its current Constitution.
Generally, Montenegro is a civil, democratic state of social justice based on the rule of law having democratic elections and a republican form of government.
The power is divided into legislative (Parliament), executive (Government) and judicial (courts) branches. The country is represented by the President of Montenegro. The right to local self-government is guaranteed.
Also, the Constitution protects a wide range of human, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms, protects minority rights and establishes the Protector of Human Rights and Liberties (Ombudsman).
The language of Montenegro is Montenegrin and the Cyrillic and the Latin alphabet are equal. However, Serbian, Bosniac, Albanian and Croatian shall also be in the official use.
The legislative power belongs to the Parliament of Montenegro, which consists of 81 members elected for 4 years by direct elections by secret ballot.
The Parliament of Montenegro inter alia adopts the Constitution, laws and other regulations and general acts, proclaims the state of war and state of emergency, calls for national referenda, confirms international agreements and elects and dismisses the Prime Minister, members of the Government, the President and judges of the Constitutional Court, the President of the Supreme Court (cf. also below under “judicial power”), the Supreme State Prosecutor and the Protector of Human Rights and Liberties.
Also, the Parliament decides on immunity rights, which are enjoyed by members of Parliament as well as the President of Montenegro, the Prime Minister and members of Government, the President of the Supreme Court, The President and judges of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme State Prosecutor.
Decisions by the Parliament are taken by majority vote of the members in a session attended by over one half of the total number of members, unless otherwise regulated by the Constitution, cf. Article 91.
Special, qualified rules on majority vote apply to inter alia laws regulating liberties and rights of the citizens, citizenship, electoral system, referenda – as well as election and dismissal of the President of the Supreme Court, The President and judges of the Constitutional Court, and the Protector of Human Rights and Liberties.
Legislative initiative – the right to propose laws and other acts – lies with the Government and members of Parliament, as well as six thousand voters, through the Member of Parliament they authorize.
Proposals to call for national referenda may be submitted by at least 25 Members of Parliament, the President of Montenegro, the Government or at least 10 % of the citizens with the right to vote.
The President of Montenegro is elected through direct and secret ballot for a period of 5 years. No one may be elected President more than two times.
The President inter alia represent Montenegro in the country and abroad, proclaims laws by ordinance, calls for the elections for the Parliament and commands the Army on the basis of the decisions of the Defence and Security Council (which consists of the President of Montenegro, the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister). Also, the President proposes to the Parliament a candidate for the Prime Minister after consultation with the representatives of the political parties represented in the Parliament as well as proposes the President and judges for the Constitutional Court and The Protector of Human Rights and Liberties.
The President shall be held responsible for the violation of the Constitution. Procedure hereon is initiated by the Parliament and decided upon by the Constitutional Court.
Executive power is vested in the Government, which consists of the Prime Minister, one or more Deputy Prime Ministers and the ministers. The Prime Minister represents the Government and manages its work.
The Prime Minister is proposed by the President to the Parliament which – simultaneously – votes for the proposal for the composition of the Government and the program of the proposed Prime Minister.
The Government inter alia manages internal and foreign policy, enforces laws, other regulations and general acts, adopts decrees, decisions and other acts for the enforcement of laws and signs international agreements.
The Parliament may vote no confidence in the Government. Also, the Parliament may submit an interpellation to examine issues regarding the work of the Government or establish Fact-finding Commissions in order to collect information and facts about events related to the work of the state authorities.
The basic form of local self-government is the municipalities which are autonomous in the performance of their duties.
Judicial power belongs to the courts, which are autonomous and independent. The courts are comprised of the Constitutional Court and courts of regular competence, including the Supreme Court.
The Constitutional Court consists of 7 judges elected for a period of 9 years. It decides intern alia on conformity of the laws with the Constitution and international agreements, conformity of other regulation and general acts with the Constitution and the law, constitutional appeal due to violation of human rights and freedoms granted by the Constitution, whether the President has violated the Constitution, conflicts of responsibilities, electoral disputes and measures taken during the state of war or state of emergency.
As mentioned above, the Parliament elects and dismisses the President and the judges of the Constitutional Court, who are proposed by the President of Montenegro. The President and the judges of the Constitutional Court shall be released from duty if the person has been found guilty of an offence that makes the person unworthy of the duty, if the person permanently loses the ability to perform the duty or if the person publicly expresses his or her political convictions.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in Montenegro and secures unified enforcement of laws by the courts. The President of the Supreme Court shall be elected and dismissed from duty by the Parliament at the joint proposal of the President of Montenegro, the Speaker of the Parliament and the Prime Minister.
The Judicial Council inter alia elects and dismisses judges, presidents of courts and lay judges and decides on the immunity of judges. The council consists of a president (the President of the Supreme Court), the Minister of Justice and 8 other members elected by the Conference of Judges (4), the Parliament (2) and the President of Montenegro (2).
The State Prosecution performs the affairs of prosecution. The Supreme State Prosecutor, State Prosecutors and the Prosecutorial Council – which shall secure the independence of the prosecution – are all elected and dismissed by the Parliament.
Changes of the Constitution shall be adopted in the Parliament if two thirds of the total number of Members of the Parliament vote in favour of it.
On 15 October 2007, Montenegro signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.
Posted: January 2008
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