The Venice Commission has raised significant concerns regarding Montenegro’s proposed Law on the Government, stating that several provisions within the draft are in violation of the country’s constitution.
The draft law imposes a strict 30-day deadline on the prime minister-designate for presenting a government program and cabinet proposal to the parliament, contradicting the constitution’s 90-day requirement. Additionally, the constitution mandates the dissolution of parliament if it fails to elect a government within the 90-day timeframe.
The proposed law seeks to limit the number of ministries to 15 and designates seven core ministries that cannot be merged with others. It also introduces a requirement for the prime minister-designate to consider gender equality and ethnic minority representation when forming the cabinet.
Concerns over vagueness and implementation
While acknowledging potential problems related to an unlimited number of ministries, the Venice Commission expressed concerns that the obligations related to gender equality and ethnic minorities’ representation might be too ambiguous to be effectively implemented in practice.
The draft law also places limitations on the outgoing government, including restrictions on incurring new financial obligations without parliamentary approval and on making nominations or appointments, except for installing acting officials.
The Venice Commission recognizes that some of these restrictions may be justified given Montenegro’s history of extended periods of government serving in a ‘technical capacity.’ However, it warns that these restrictions appear to exceed the bounds set by the constitution.
The advisory board further suggests that such additional restrictions are typically left to good practice and unwritten constitutional conventions in some states. Therefore, if these restrictions are to become legal requirements, the commission recommends careful consideration of their consistency with the constitution.
This call for revision comes in the context of Montenegro’s dynamic political developments. The country has experienced several changes in government, with the current administration continuing in an outgoing capacity. The outcome of this draft law is anticipated to significantly shape Montenegro’s political landscape, emphasizing the need for a meticulous examination of its constitutional implications.