The head of Serbia’s Party of Freedom and Justice, former Belgrade mayor Dragan Djilas, has slammed EU parliamentarians’ draft electoral reforms after they were leaked to the media yesterday.
“The proposal we received is not acceptable for the citizens of Serbia, because it does not contain clear mechanisms that would enable respect for the law, the implementation of which is necessary for us to have free elections,” charged Djilas.
The draft electoral reforms for improving the fairness of the 2022 general elections were first sent to opposition parties and movements taking part in ongoing dialogue with Serbia’s ruling parties; the entire process is being mediated by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
The leaked draft document identifies equal media representation and the integrity of the electoral process as two key areas for reform, as emphasised by MEPs. The proposed electoral reforms also call for Serbian media to adequately report on the political offering of all parties throughout the election process.
In an effort to ensure equal media representation, European Parliament mediators have proposed new binding regulations for public service broadcasters, in addition to the establishment of a temporary body made up of members of the Serbian Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and other representatives. This supervisory body would then draft guidelines for public service broadcasters, and oversee their implementation.
These guidelines would also determine the cases in which the use of state resources for party purposes would be classified as an abuse of official position.
Moreover, the electoral reforms call on the media to publish their tariffs for political advertising ahead of the start of the 2022 campaign, while public service broadcasters have been asked to ensure equal representation for all political candidates.
The proposed electoral reforms go on to address the election process as a whole, and specifically call for efforts to ensure the secrecy of the ballot, bolster polling stations, and boost the transparency of voter lists. The reforms also call for increased transparency in campaign financing, and for clear election rules.
The leader of the centre-right People’s Party, former foreign minister Vuk Jeremic, said he would not comment on the draft electoral reforms until his party had properly studied all conditions listed in the document.
According to the proposed reforms, the deadline for reaching an agreement on election conditions is at least six months ahead of elections. Serbia is set to hold parliamentary elections and local polls, including a presidential vote, in Belgrade in April 2022.