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Proposals for amendments to improve the election process

Transparency Serbia sent to the Serbian Parliament proposals for amendments to the laws that are being changed before the announced April elections, which would significantly improve these regulations, and thus the election process.

Proposals for amendments to the Law on Financing Political Activities, the Law on the Election of People's Deputies and amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption were submitted to all parliamentary groups and independent deputies, with an invitation to accept them in their original form or with refinement as their proposals in parliament.

Transparency Serbia made proposals to fully regulate the issue of "functionary campaigns", introduce restrictions on election campaign expenses, enable information on funding sources and expenditures to be more accessible during the election campaign, and regulate the protection of whistleblowers in connection with the election process.

The current proposal to amend the Law on Prevention of Corruption will have practically no or very little scope concerning regulating the "functionary campaign". It is envisaged that the President of Serbia will finally be bound by the obligation to emphasize whether he is acting as the leader of the party or the state like other public officials. Transparency Serbia proposed significantly broader amendments to this article, which would clearly set a ban on the organization and participation of public officials in promotional activities during the election campaign. The government and parliament previously missed an opportunity to regulate this area, when amendments to the Law on Electronic Media introduced a restriction only on media coverage of promotional activities, but to a very limited extent - only for TV and radio, only for some activities ( opening facilities and signing contracts) and only for some public officials (presidential candidates, MPs and councillors).

The draft Law on Financing Political Activities introduces changes related to ODIHR recommendations, such as reducing the amount of allowed contributions, introducing preliminary reports on campaign financing, but does not envisage limiting the total expenditures of the election campaign. This is the practice in many European countries, especially the countries in our environment, and the TS, among other things, proposed the introduction of this limit with an amendment.

The government's proposal envisions the introduction of an obligation for the election participants to submit preliminary reports on election campaign expenses as of 15 days before the election. This will not ensure transparency of information because only less than 10% of the costs will be paid by that time, so the TS proposed making the data from the special campaign financing account opened by all participants in the elections. TS also proposed measures to reduce the discretion of the Tax Administration when deciding which campaign contributors to control, clarifying the Anti-Corruption Agency's obligations to control campaign finance reports, and significantly improving definitions of crimes related to illegal campaign financing or pressure on donors and service providers.

Concerning the Law on the Election of Deputies and other election laws, the TS proposed to regulate the alarm procedure regarding irregularities in the election procedure so that it is clear who is responsible for examining reports of irregularities, powers and status of the Supervisory the formation of which has not even been announced for this election, as well as a proposal to reduce the costs of conducting elections so that those parties that already have representatives in the permanent composition of polling stations would not have the right to appoint paid observers to the expanded composition of these bodies.