Civil society organizations drew the attention of the Venice Commission delegation representatives to the fact that, when giving an opinion on the draft constitutional amendments concerning the judiciary, it is necessary to consider the state of democratic institutions, and the political context, having in mind that whether the constitutional changes will indeed ensure the independence of the judiciary depends on these two factors.
CRTA analyzed the Measures to Improve the Conduct of the Electoral Process, proposed by the co-facilitators in the course of the Inter-Party Dialogue mediated by the European Parliament, published on 18 September 2021. One segment of the proposed measures comes as a result of a political agreement – these measures constitute temporary solutions, and go beyond the existing legal and institutional framework. Assessing their enforcement will, therefore, require analzying their actual effects in practice, during the observation of the upcoming elections. The following analysis is strictly focused on legal solutions which are in line with the existing legal and institutional framework, and their possible reach and compliance with domestic legislation, as well as with international standards and recommendations by domestic and international observers.
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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.
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.