The last three years has seen a radical shift in political power in Montenegro, with new political leadership entering government for the first time in the country’s independence. This shift has led to renewed vigor in strengthening democratic and good governance processes. As of 2023, IFES’s programming, funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and the U.S. Department of State, focuses on strengthening anti-corruption efforts, improving election cybersecurity and digital resilience, and combatting information integrity threats during elections. Since 1997, IFES has engaged electoral stakeholders on strengthening the electoral process in Montenegro, with a particular focus on electoral reform, legal frameworks, voter education, and anti-corruption. IFES has worked with election commissions, state institutions, civil society, and media outlets to improve cooperation and promote secure elections.
With the support of FCDO, IFES is partnering with the State Election Commission (SEC), the Agency for Prevention of Corruption (APC), and relevant civil society organizations to assess and address the specific threats posed by malign influence in Montenegro’s electoral process. IFES is analyzing the core risks and vulnerabilities to hostile interference that exist in Montenegro’s electoral process and is responding through tailored interventions for key actors to improve digital resilience, counter information threats, and track and sanction illicit financial flows. IFES is also engaging the Center for Monitoring and Research in Montenegro (CeMI) to shift incentives around implementation of international and regional anti-corruption standards and commitments. With technical assistance, coordination, and advocacy support, CeMI is strengthening the APC’s approach to monitoring and control of political finance during election campaigns. They are also engaging with the Council of Europe and the Montenegrin judiciary on enhancing transparency and disciplinary processes. Under a “Global Election Integrity” program funded by Meta, IFES supported CeMI’s efforts to monitor social media for evidence of abuse of state resources and instances of mis- and disinformation in electoral campaigns. Lessons from this project were leveraged to raise voter awareness of online election violations and to inform parallel monitoring initiatives among a growing civil society network in Eastern Europe working for transparent and fair elections.