PODGORICA – The Population and Housing Census in Montenegro started on Sunday. According to the plan, the census will last for 15 days, but according to Montenegrin media, a several-day extension is possible.
The census was postponed several times, following the requests of the opposition Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). They requested the completion of all conditions provided in the agreement signed between the opposition and the Prime Minister, Milojko Spajić.
The Statistical Administration of Montenegro (Monstat) announced that all the conditions for holding the population census have been met. They called on citizens to “open the door to the census takers” and urged them to “refrain from statements that do not help calm tensions.”
The census was initially scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, it did not take place due to technical reasons. At that time, Montenegro was experiencing a politically turbulent period stemming from the 2020 parliamentary elections when the DPS, led by Milo Đukanović, lost power for the first time in three decades.
The last decision of Dritan Abazović’s Government was to schedule the census for 1 November. The DPS, expressing concern about its fairness, announced a boycott of the census scheduled for 1 November, leading to its postponement. DPS presented 17 demands to the new government that needed to be addressed, or they would call on their supporters to boycott the census. Negotiations involving the government, opposition, and minority councils lasted for days.
Prime Minister Spajić emphasized two deficiencies: the improvement of software for monitoring the census takers, allowing individuals to verify the information entered in their name into the database, and the inclusion of opposition members in the census commission.
DPS official Danijel Živković stated that after the technical documentation for the data verification software was completed, the last condition from the agreement between the government, opposition, and the Council of Minority Peoples was fulfilled. Although DPS members had previously hinted at the possibility of boycotting the census, they urged citizens to “demonstrate responsibility” by participating in the census.
“I believe that all citizens will understand the responsibility, the current situation in Montenegro, and will demonstrate that responsibility by participating in the census to preserve the dignity of Montenegro,” Živković said.
Source : European Western Balkans