In Serbia, there are currently two tracks of dialogue between the government and the opposition on improving election conditions: one in the National Assembly without the participation of foreign mediators and the other in the Palace of Serbia with the mediation of the European Parliament delegation. There is also a third track, and that is the dialogue of the Working Group of the Government of Serbia with the representatives of the OSCE, more precisely their Department for Human Rights and Democracy, whose observation mission has serious objections to the regularity of the election process in Serbia.
The best proof of the success of the boycott of last year’s elections by the majority of the opposition is precisely the fact that the government is now forced to discuss the election conditions, which was previously impossible. At the same time, it is proof that the last elections were undemocratic, because why would the election conditions improve if everything was in order? The current convocation of the National Assembly, in which there is no opposition, has completely exposed the undemocratic character of the current government in Serbia before both the domestic and international public, and the ruling regime now needs legitimacy for the next elections and a new assembly. There is room for an agreement between the government and the opposition, but the subject of that agreement cannot be cosmetic changes and throwing crumbs from the government’s table, but a substantial improvement of all election conditions. As someone who participates in both streams of dialogue, I can testify first hand how far we have come and what the expectations and potential problems are in these dialogues.
First of all, it should be noted that the demands of the opposition are very similar and concern primarily the freedom of the media, preventing pressure on voters and banning official campaigns, as well as checking the Unified Voters’ List, the new composition of the Republic Election Commission and the new way of controlling election results. The latter refers to one of the biggest problems in election practice, and that is that it is constantly repeated that the figures on election results in the voter records do not agree with the situation in the ballot bags, as shown by various checks in the last few election cycles. All concrete solutions to these issues have been exposed on both tracks of dialogue on several occasions, and now the government is on the move to declare itself on all proposals of the opposition.
What has been accepted by the authorities so far from my proposals is that the dialogue on both tracks be completed at least six months before the first next elections, which in practice means that if the elections are approximately around April 1 next year, everything must be agreed and implemented. in practice by the end of September this year at the latest. The dialogue without foreign mediators can be completed much earlier, because the authorities’ answers are expected by the end of July, while a definitive agreement with the mediation of MEPs must wait for their next arrival in Serbia on September 17 and 18, by which time they will submit their election document. conditions.
My other proposal, which was accepted, is to invite representatives of the largest electronic and print media to a dialogue, in order to directly agree on equal representation of the government and the opposition in their editorial policy, which is their obligation under the law. What I especially insisted on was that it must be valid for a complete pre-election period of at least six months, and not just for a month as long as the election campaign lasts. So far, RTS, RTV, TV PRVA and TV B92 have responded to that invitation, which are expected to submit specific plans for news programs from September 1.
The third thing that the negotiators from the government agreed to is to form a joint working group of the government and the opposition, which will review the voter list and determine all irregularities in it, as well as in further dealing with it at polling stations. Finally, the fourth thing that could be agreed upon is that all polling station records be immediately scanned and published on the REC website, as well as all complaints and all decisions on complaints by the REC and the Administrative Court. All of these are certain shifts in the dialogue, but we are still far from satisfactory final agreements.
What the government will not discuss is the separation of elections and the ban on the holder of the list in the elections being someone who is not a candidate for MP or councilor and who does not have a residence in that constituency. Also, the government is not ready to open a dialogue on changing the electoral system at this moment, and they claim that there will be no change in the electoral threshold, but that both topics should be left for the continuation of this inter-party dialogue after the next elections. The most difficult thing will be to make progress in what the government bases its electoral success on, and that is the pressure on voters and the functionary campaign. The biggest controversies in the continuation of both dialogues will be about that, as well as about how to organize the REC.
The goal of the participation of the delegation of the Serbian movement Dveri in these talks is to get the maximum out of both courses of negotiations to improve the election conditions in Serbia, so that the next elections would be much more free and fair than before. What we succeed in the dialogue in the National Assembly without foreign mediation will also benefit our colleagues from the boycott of the opposition, just as what we fight for in the dialogue with the mediation of the EP delegation in the Palace of Serbia will benefit all those who do not want foreign mediation. The only good thing about all these delays and delays in reaching a final agreement between the government and the opposition on improving election conditions is that we will have government answers in the dialogue in the Assembly by the end of July and know very quickly what we are on this track of dialogue. we will then be able to make additional corrections and improvements in the final dialogue with the mediation of MEPs in September.
The government is undoubtedly forced against the wall that it must meet the demands of the opposition, but we must be careful that their answers to our demands are not pure cosmetics and some new attempt at faking and fooling around. In that case, we must prepare for some other forms of pressure on the government, because false and undemocratic elections in Serbia must no longer be allowed. It is much better for everyone to agree and for the forces to be measured in fair elections, and not again on the street as exactly a year ago, when the regime defended its unreasonable decisions by brutal police intervention by force.
– SERBIAN info (@srbininfo) July 10, 2021
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