Controversial Religion Law Tips Montenegro Election
Serbian Orthodox Church called for votes against 30-year ruling party. Evangelicals “cried for justice … now we have to pray hard.”
For the first time in his life, 82-year-old Bishop Amfilohije voted in an election.
His example led record numbers of citizens in Montenegro to do the same this past Sunday.
Spurred by what he perceived as government attacks on his beloved Serbian Orthodox Church, he launched an “anybody but them” campaign against the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), which held power in the Eastern European country for the last 30 years.
“[Vote] for the saints, and against the lawless,” said Amfilohije one week before the August 30 election, according to Balkan Insight. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic is accused of running a corrupt government.
Preliminary results indicate a razor-thin victory for the bishop.
The opposition coalition won 41 out of 81 seats in parliament.
The DPS claimed the largest solo share with 30, but will find itself out of power for the first time in Montenegro’s 14-year history if all coalitions hold.
“This is the freedom that so many have long been longing for,” pastor Sinisa Nadazdin told CT. His Gospel of Jesus Christ Church is located in the capital city of Podgorica, and is one of the nation’s five registered evangelical churches.
“The myth of Djukanovic’s invincibility is finally broken.”
Montenegro is the 6th-least evangelical country in Europe, according to the Joshua Project. Believers were not united behind any particular party, but many welcomed the democratic message.
“This is an opportunity to get some new blood into the system, to decrease corruption and cronyism,” said Stanisa Surbatovich, pastor of a small church in the nation’s second-largest city of Niksic, who considers Montenegro the least evangelized.
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May 18, 2021