#02 PREVENT ABUSES IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCING
By accepting the Copenhagen Document, the state undertook to provide the necessary legal guarantees that would enable political parties and organisations to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and by authorities (CD 7.6). The Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice states that the financing of political parties, candidates and election campaigns must be transparent
(VC I.2.3.d), and that the principle of equality may sometimes lead to a limit on funding for political parties. (I.2.3.e). In order for these standards to be met, it is necessary to undertake the following:
a. Limit the use of funds for the regular operation of political entities for the purposes of the election campaign
Amendments to the Law on Financing Political Activities from 2014 enabled political entities to use the funds they receive for their regular work for election campaign expenses. In this way, the possibility was introduced to use taxpayers’ funds for a purpose other than initial. In addition, this legal possibility leads to inequality of political entities and the creation of large differences and gaps between political parties that have many years of experience in the Assembly, and newly formed groups of citizens and other political entities that do not have their representatives in the Assembly. Therefore, it is necessary to amend the provision from the Law on Financing Political Activities that allows spending funds intended for regular work to finance the campaign. (deletion of article 24, paragraph 4), so that these funds are limited to a legally determined amount.
b. Mandatory submission and publishing of a provisional reports on the costs of the election campaign prior to the election day
According to existing regulations, political entities are obliged to submit reports on campaign expenses 30 days after the end of the elections. Therefore, citizens do not have a transparent insight into election participants’ spending costs during the campaign. In order to increase the transparency of election campaign financing, it is necessary to amend the Law on Financing Political Activities so as to introduce the obligation of submitting an interim report for all political entities holding declared electoral lists, and those nominating candidates for the President of the Republic, members of Parliament, and local councilors. The deadline for submitting the interim report is 10 days before election day. The interim report should contain data on the received contributions for election campaign financing, and a report on the expenses (expenditures) of the election campaign, with updated data by the day of submission of the interim report. The form and content of the report shall be prescribed by the Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency. The Agency would be required to publish the interim report on its website no later than the day following the day of receipt.
c. Increase the amount of public funds designated for covering election campaign costs, which are distributed in advance to all electoral lists that have opted for it, from the current 20% to 40%
During regular election years, public funds for covering election campaign costs are provided in the total amount of 0.07% of tax revenues of the budget of the Republic of Serbia for that year, tax revenues of the budget of the autonomous province, or tax revenues of local self-governments. These funds are distributed in equal amounts to all political entities holding declared electoral lists, who have, while submitting the list, stated that they intend to use funds from public sources to cover campaign costs. The remaining amount (80%) is later distributed to political entities who have passed the electoral threshold, proportionately to the number of seats won, within five days from the official announcement of election results. It is necessary to amend Article 21 para. 1 and 2 of the Law on Financing Political Activities, which regulates the distribution of public funds for election campaign financing, so that the percentage of funds allocated before the elections is increased from the current 20 to 40%, and the amount of the remaining funds is reduced from the current 80 to 60%.