The Serbian political scene has long been characterised by a worrying lack of political pluralism and the collapse of the basic mechanisms that protect democracy. The last parliamentary elections were preceded by a dialogue on improving election conditions, which did not yield results.
Extremely uneven representation of ruling parties and the opposition – this is the main finding of CRTA’s year long post-election media content analysis of central news on televisions with national coverage: RTS, Pink, Prva, Happy, and B92. Between July 2020 and the end of June 2021, representatives of the ruling majority garnered as much as 93% of time in television programme covering political actors, while the opposition was present in the remaining 7% of time.
The following case study speaks about one of the most blatant examples of abuse of public resources by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, during the election campaign for elections held in June 2020 at all levels. There were many similar examples, but this is one of the few that was efficiently processed in compliance with the legally prescribed short deadlines, and in which it was determined that the provisions of the Law on Financing Political Activities had been violated. In the same case, certain shortcomings of the existing legal framework were noticed, as well as certain weaknesses and inconsistencies in the actions of the Anti-Corruption Agency, which is responsible for the implementation of this law. Public resources are being misused, primarily by public officials, but also by civil servants, in order to promote political parties during the election campaign. In this way, political parties, which are in power at the time of the election campaign, gain a great and insurmountable advantage over other actors in the election game, primarily over opposition parties.
Hiding data on the value of monuments is the most current example, but it is actually just one in many examples of public authorities calling for the secrecy of data in a way that has no basis in law. This case sheds yet again light on a problem that the Commissioner has been constantly pointing out for more than fifteen years of his work. In the search for solution of this problem, different institutions at different levels of power have been setting the hurdles, in an orchestrated manner.
CRTA is inviting an expert for crisis communications to contribute to the improvement of the organization’s internal capacities and processes for communication in crisis situations, through engagement with members of the organization.
CRTA conducted a survey “Attitudes of Serbian citizens on participation in democratic processes 2020” during November 2020. The aim of the research was to determine the attitudes of Serbian citizens regarding political issues, as well as the degree of their readiness to participate in democratic processes that include various forms of civic participation – from voting in the elections to initiating and participating in actions. The research is a noteworthy presentation of the democratic state of society. The extent to which citizens are ready to get involved in social processes, to exercise their civil rights and to influence decision-makers are indicators of the “health” of a democracy.
Serbia is formally a democratic state and a polarised society in which key democratic institutions, such as the Parliament or the elections, have been collapsing for years, critical thinking restrained, and citizens discouraged and detracted from participating in democratic processes – this is the conclusion of the conference at which the findings of the public opinion survey “Attitudes of Serbian citizens on participation in democratic processes 2020” conducted by the CRTA were presented.
From the announcement of the official results of the July 2020 parliamentary elections to the end of the January 2021, in the last seven months the ruling parties were by far the most represented in central informative programs on television with national frequency, while opposition parties were barely visible, that are the main findings of CRTA’s media monitoring analysis. The research covered the central news programs on RTS, Pink, Prva, Happy and B92 television.
Because politics is not just for politicians. It is our human and citizen right to participate in the processes of making decisions which influence our lives. A dialogue has no alternative.
Free and fair elections
Because elections are the pillars of democracy. It is every citizen’s right to decide on whom to give his/her vote in free and fair conditions. Our vote is valuable and it can make a difference.
Because institutions serve the citizens. We need strong institutions with integrity which protect the public interest.
Because media should ask questions and critically analyse the reality. We need the media which protect the public interest and tackle the needs of the citizens.