Democratic Party of Socialists
Демократска партија социјалиста
Demokratska partija socijalista
PresidentMilo Đukanović
Secretary GeneralAleksandar Bogdanović
FoundersMomir Bulatović
Milo Đukanović
Svetozar Marović
Founded22 June 1991; 31 years ago (22 June 1991)
Preceded byLeague of Communists of Montenegro (SKCG)
Political positionBig tent[A]
European affiliationParty of European Socialists (associate)
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
Socialist International
Colours  Purple   Gold
Seats in the
29 / 81
Local Parliaments
250 / 847
6 / 25

^ A: The DPS has been a catch-all party since its formation[1][2] but has been described as left-wing until 1997,[3] and after that as centre-left[4][5] or centrist,[6] with some factions which are right-wing, populist and nationalist.[7][8]

The Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (Montenegrin: Демократска партија социјалиста Црне Горе, romanizedDemokratska partija socijalista Crne Gore, DPS) is a populist[9] political party in Montenegro.[10] A former long-time ruling party sitting at the opposition for the first time as of 2020, it was formed on 22 June 1991 as the successor of the League of Communists of Montenegro, which had governed Montenegro within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia since World War II, and has remained a major force in the country ever since. The party is a member of the Socialist International[11] and the Progressive Alliance,[12] and an associate of the Party of European Socialists. During the 1990s, DPS was the major centre-left, social-democratic party in favour of Serbian-Montenegrin unionism. However, since 1997, the party has embraced Montenegrin independence and has been improving ties with the West, slowly turning into a catch-all party embracing Atlanticism,[13] Montenegrin nationalism,[9][14] neoliberalism,[15][16][17] and pro-Europeanism.[18][19]

Since its formation and the introduction of a multi-party system, the DPS has played a dominant role in Montenegrin politics, forming the backbone of every coalition government until the 2020 parliamentary election, when it entered the opposition. This marked the first time since 1945 that the party, including its predecessor incarnation, had not been in power.[20] Prior to the 2020 election, the party strongly supported the controversial religious freedom law, causing tensions across Montenegro and the rise of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegrin politics.[21] The Church gaining more power gave motivation for the ethnic nationalist faction to rise in the party, with which some members such as the civic nationalist Filip Vujanović had issues since 2011.[22][23] The ethnic nationalist wing of the party also supported renewing the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, which led to the DPS being accused of creating a "party church".[24][25]


The party evolved from the League of Communists of Montenegro as a reformist force after Yugoslavia's dissolution. In the 1990s, party was based on democratic socialism, social democracy, and Serbian–Montenegrin unionism. In the 2000s, the party switched policy towards a common state with Serbia and would become the main proponent of the independence of Montenegro in 2006. In the 2010s and 2020s, the party is characterized by populist,[9] big tent politics with a slight centre-left lean,[26] alongside elements of nationalism[27] and a pro-European stance towards European integration.[18] The PDS also followed most mainstream, centre-left, social-democratic parties moving to the right since the 1980s, as a result of the post-war displacement of Keynesianism, by embracing Third Way economics and politics but has been described as one of the most radical neoliberal centre-left parties.[15] Many considered the party and its three decades rule to have been in practice a kleptocratic and authoritarian regime.[28][29][30][31][32]

After its ninth congress in November 2019, the DPS dominantly increased its ethnic Montenegrin nationalist discourse by officially and institutionally supporting the rights of the canonically unrecognized Montenegrin Orthodox Church, announcing its "re-establishment".[33] According to the ODIHR and Freedom House reports that the party established a hybrid regime as well an electoral authoritarian system. After the fall of its populist regime from the position of power after 30 years due to results of the 2020 Montenegrin parliamentary election, the party said that the Krivokapić Cabinet, a big tent ruling coalition, represents "threat for Montenegrin statehood and its independence". The period before the 2020 parliamentary election was marked by the high polarization of the electorate. Several corruption scandals of the ruling party triggered 2019 Montenegrin anti-corruption protests, while a controversial religion law sparked another wave of protests. Election monitoring observer OSCE stated that "[a]buse of state resources gave the ruling party an unfair advantage" and of inciting ethnic hatred, and said that although the elections were competitive, the governing party also benefited from a lack of independent media.[34] In foreign policy, the party maintains Atlanticist and Europeanist positions, condemning Russian aggression against Ukraine and positioning itself in an anti-Russian role.[35][36] According to some analysts, the DPS, together with its coallition partners, as well some newly founded nationalist parties, started pushing the narrative of "Montenegro being left to Serbia by the United States and the EU", but these assessments have no foundation in the post-Ukrainian invasion international scenario.[37][38][8]


Slobodan Milošević cropped.jpg
Ratko Dmitrovic, Momir Bulatovic, Zdenko (cropped).jpg
Slobodan Milošević Momir Bulatović


Further information: Anti-bureaucratic revolution

The history of the DPS begins with the political turmoil in Yugoslavia in the late 1980s. After Slobodan Milošević seized power in the League of Communists of Serbia, he went on to organize rallies that eventually ousted the leaderships of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia local branches in Vojvodina, Kosovo, and Montenegro. This series of events, collectively known as the Anti-bureaucratic revolution, swept into power new party leadership in Montenegro, one allied with Milošević, personified in Momir Bulatović, Milo Đukanović, and Svetozar Marović.

Official party logo stylized in Cyrillic script as was used during the 1990s
Official party logo stylized in Cyrillic script as was used during the 1990s

Under this new leadership, the League of Communists of Montenegro won by a landslide in the 1990 Montenegrin general election, the first relatively free multi-party election in Socialist Montenegro, held in December 1990, taking 83 out of 125 seats in the Parliament of Montenegro. The party had a significant head start in the elections, as it had the entire established party structure at its disposal, while newly formed competition had to start from scratch. The party changed its name to the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (Demokratska partija Crne Gore) on 22 June 1991.

With Bulatović as the president, the DPS closely aligned Montenegro with Serbia and the policies of Slobodan Milošević. The party was firmly in power during the turbulent early 1990s, which saw the breakup of Yugoslavia and the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars. During these years, the party endorsed a union and close relations with Serbia, its sole partner in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) from 1992. The party maintained the support of the electorate in this difficult period for Montenegro, winning both the 1992–1993 and 1996 parliamentary elections.

Split between Bulatović and Đukanović

Secretary Kerry Puts the Cap Back on His Pen After Signing an Accession Protocol to Continue Montenegro
Svetozar Marović crop.jpg
Milo Đukanović Svetozar Marović

On July 11, 1997, the party's national committee Glavni odbor (GO) held a closed doors session after which the committee selected Milica Pejanović-Đurišić to replace Bulatović as the party president.[39] The party split had enormous implications, making a political confrontation between Đukanović and Bulatović inevitable. This manifested in the 1997 Montenegrin presidential election held in October, which Đukanović won by a thin margin. Bulatović went on to form the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro (SNP) out of his defeated DPS faction, whose platform held a unionist position on the question of Yugoslavia and its short-lived successor state, Serbia and Montenegro. Meanwhile, Đukanović became a fierce opponent of Slobodan Milošević politics.

As a result of Đukanović's relationship with the United States, Montenegro received significant amounts of economic aid during this period, and negotiated limitations on NATO bombings of its territory in 1999, whereas the rest of Yugoslavia was subject to significantly heavier attacks. The DPS government gradually severed ties with Serbia by taking control over customs and the economy, introducing first the German mark, and subsequently the euro as legal tender, and generally reducing the influence of the federal government in Montenegro.

Montenegrin independence

Following the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević on 5 October 2000, the DPS showed signs of greater support for Montenegrin independence. The campaign for the 2002 parliamentary elections was devoted to the question of Montenegro's independence. The European Union mediated negotiations between the DPS and the newly elected democratic government in Serbia in 2003 imposed a three-year waiting period before an independence referendum could be held. The transitional period saw the transformation of the FR Yugoslavia to a loose union called Serbia and Montenegro. During the existence of the union state, the party congress added the goal of a "democratic, internationally-recognized, independent Montenegro" to its official platform.[40] The party then spearheaded the pro-independence campaign ahead of Montenegro's referendum in 2006. With 55.5% of voters opting for independence, Montenegro became an independent state on 3 June 2006.

Post-referendum era

Former logo of the party used from the late 1990s until 2021
Former logo of the party used from the late 1990s until 2021

At the 2006 Montenegrin parliamentary election as well as the subsequent 2009 and 2012 parliamentary elections, the DPS confirmed its position as the strongest political party in Montenegro. The party has formed the basis of all parliamentary majorities and has been the backbone of all government cabinets since independence, usually with its now traditional ally the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro and ethnic minority parties. Former party vice-president Filip Vujanović served as the president of Montenegro for three terms from 2002 until 2018, having won presidential elections in 2003, 2008, and 2013, being succeeded by party leader Milo Đukanović in 2018.

Đukanović remains the party president and its undisputed authority, serving either as Prime Minister or President of Montenegro from 1991 to 2006, 2008 to 2010 and 2012 to 2016. In 2006, the party leadership chose Željko Šturanović, former Minister of Justice, to succeed Đukanović as Prime Minister, until his resignation on 31 January 2008 for health reasons, whereupon Đukanović replaced him, only to resign again in December 2010 while retaining his role as DPS party leader.[41] After winning the 2012 parliamentary elections, Đukanović once again assumed the position of Prime Minister. In 2015, the centre-left Social Democratic Party left the coalition with the DPS, accusing ruling party of corruption and abuse of power. At the 2020 parliamentary election, DPS decided to run independently, with single candidate spot on the electoral list given to the nationalist Liberal Party of Montenegro.[42] Election eventually resulted in a victory for the opposition parties and the fall of the authoritarian DPS, after governing the country for 30 years, since the introduction of the multi-party system in 1990.[43][44]

Party presidents

No. President Age Term start Term end Time in office
1 Momir Bulatović
Momir Bulatović (cropped).jpg
1956–2019 22 June 1991 19 October 1997 6 years, 119 days
2 Milica Pejanović
Montenegrin Defense Minister Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic Sept. 7, 2012 120907-D-NI589-113 .jpg
b. 1959 19 October 1997 31 October 1998 1 year, 12 days
3 Milo Đukanović
Milo Đukanović at the Enthronement of Naruhito (1).jpg
b. 1962 31 October 1998 Incumbent 24 years, 84 days

Electoral performance

Parliamentary elections

Election Party leader Performance Alliance Rank Government
Votes % Seats +/–
1990 Momir Bulatović 171,316
83 / 125
- - 1st Government
1992 126,083
46 / 85
Decrease37 - 1st Government
1996 150,237
45 / 71
Decrease1 - 1st Government
1998 Milica Pejanović 170,080
32 / 78
Decrease13 ECG 1st Government
2001 Milo Đukanović 153,946
30 / 77
Decrease2 ECG 1st Government
2002 167,166
31 / 75
Increase1 ECG 1st Government
2006 164,737
32 / 81
Increase1 ECG 1st Government
2009 168,290
35 / 81
Increase3 ECG 1st Government
2012 165,380
32 / 81
Decrease3 ECG 1st Government
2016 158,490
35 / 81
Increase3 - 1st Government
2020 143,548
29 / 81
Decrease6 - 1st Opposition 2020–22
Support 2022
Opposition 2022–23

Presidential elections

President of Montenegro
Year Candidate 1st round popular votes % of popular votes 2nd round popular votes % of popular votes
1990 Momir Bulatović 1st 170,092 42.22% 1st 203,616 76.1
1992 Momir Bulatović 1st 123,183 42.8% 1st 158,722 63.4
1997 Milo Đukanović 2nd 145,348 46.71% 1st 174,745 50.79
2003 Filip Vujanović 1st 139,574 64.2%
2008 Filip Vujanović 1st 171,118 51.89%
2013 Filip Vujanović 1st 161,940 51.21%
2018 Milo Đukanović 1st 180,274 53.90%

Yugoslavian elections

Parliament of Serbia and Montenegro
Year Popular vote % of popular vote Seats Montenegrin seats ± Government Ballot carrier
1992 160,040 68.6%
23 / 136
23 / 30
Increase 23 Coalition Miloš Radulović
1992 130,431 47.3%
17 / 138
17 / 30
Decrease 6 Coalition Radoje Kontić
1996 146,221 50.8%
20 / 138
20 / 30
Increase 3 Coalition Radoje Kontić
2000 Election boycotted
0 / 138
0 / 30
Decrease 20 Election boycotted

Positions held


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