OUR INITIATIVES
Competent Authorities

FAIR ELECTIONS: EQUALITY OF ALL PARTICIPANTS IN THE CAMPAIGN

In order for the elections to be fair, the condition is that the participants in the election campaign race from approximately equal positions. By signing the Copenhagen Document (CD), Serbia has committed itself to respecting the rights of its citizens to participate in the power either directly or through representatives, freely elected through a fair election process (CD 6). The laws of the state must allow political campaigns to be conducted in a fair and free climate in which political parties and candidates will not be prevented from freely presenting their views and opinions (7.7). In order to achieve this, it is necessary to: ensure equality of participants in the candidacy process, prevent abuses in the financing of the election campaign, and especially the misuse of public resources in the election campaign, as well as to improve the actions of the Anti-Corruption Agency in the election process.

FAIR ELECTIONS: EQUAL MEDIA REPRESENTATION

Another important aspect of the equality of participants in the election campaign refers to their equal representation in the media. The Copenhagen document requires the government to allow political parties and organisations to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and by authorities (7.6). The document further stipulates that state laws must allow political campaigns to be conducted in a fair and free atmosphere, both for political parties and candidates, who will not be prevented from freely presenting their views and opinions, and for voters, who cannot be prevented from learning and discussing them (7.7). Voters must have the freedom to form an opinion, and state bodies must respect the obligation of neutrality in relation to the media (VC I.3.1.a.i). In order to achieve these standards, it would be necessary to: prevent discrimination against campaign participants in the media and provide them with equal access to political advertising, to clearly define the REM’s obligations during the election campaign, and to introduce clear mechanisms for selecting and determining the REM’s Council responsibilities.

FREE ELECTIONS: FREEDOM OF CHOICE AND SUFFRAGE

Pursuant to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, elections are free and voting is secret (article 52). The Copenhagen document obligates countries to organise free elections by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedure, under conditions which ensure in practice the free expression of the opinion of the electors in the choice of their representatives (CD 5.1). Suffrage shall be universal and every citizen of age and working ability of the Republic of Serbia shall have the right to vote and be elected. (article 52 of the Constitution). The Copenhagen document also foresees universal and equal suffrage to adult citizens (CD 7.3), whereas law and public authorities’ work must permit to voters to cast their ballots free of fear of retribution (7.7). Therefore, pressure on voters should be prevented and their freedom of choice ensured, and in order for that to be possible, a more active role of the public prosecutor’s office in the election process is needed, all categories should be guaranteed equal voting rights, and the Voters’ Register must be updated and verified.

FREE ELECTIONS: PROTECTION OF THE ELECTORAL RIGHTS

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, electoral right shall be protected by the law and in accordance with the law (article 52). The Copenhagen document requires that the activity of the government and the administration, as well as that of the judiciary will be exercised in accordance with the system established by law. (CD 5.5), that everyone will have an effective means of redress against administrative decisions (CD 5.10). The Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice provides for an effective system of appeals in the electoral process (VC I.3.3), in which there must be the possibility of a final appeal to the court (I.3.3.a), the appeal procedure and, in particular, the powers and duties of the various bodies, must be clearly regulated by law, in order to avoid conflicts of jurisdiction (I.3.3.c). Also, the OSCE participating States consider that the presence of observers, both foreign and domestic, can enhance the electoral process for States in which elections are taking place. They therefore invite observers from any other OSCE participating States and any appropriate private institutions and organisations who may wish to do so to observe the course of their national election proceedings (CD 8). It is therefore necessary to: set such legal deadlines that would enable effective protection of the electoral rights, expand the competencies of the election administration, facilitate the protection of the electoral rights for election participants and voters, and give observers greater powers in monitoring the election process.

PROCESS INTEGRITY: THE WORK OF THE ELECTION ADMINISTRATION

The election administration has a key role to play in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process. Among the procedural guarantees for holding free and fair elections, the Venice Commission mentions in the first place an independent body for organising elections (EC II.3.1). ensure that votes are cast by secret ballot, and that they are counted and reported honestly with the official results made public (CD 7.4). The Copenhagen document requires that the activity of the government and the administration as well as that of the judiciary will be exercised in accordance with the system established by law (5.5), and that legislation will be adopted at the end of a public procedure (5.8), while Venice Commission requires that the election rules be sat according to the law (VC II.2). The CRTA suggests to: reform the entire system of the election administration, increase the transparency of its work, harmonise the deadlines for election actions, and increase capacities of polling stations.