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Election 2022 Monitoring - TS presented the first findings

Intensive public officials' campaign, higher participation of state officials in party activities than in previous election cycles and media domination of Aleksandar Vučić and his election list through a combination of public officials' campaign, statements and guest appearances on TV and advertising are the main characteristics of the first four weeks of parliamentary elections campaign - shows the research of Transparency Serbia, presented today at a press conference at the Media Center.

As far as these features are concerned, nothing has changed since March 3 and the announcement of the presidential elections. The current campaign course also shows that the changes in the law, adopted at the beginning of 2022, did not change the officials' behaviour, said TS associate Zlatko Minić.

TS Monitoring izbora 2022 prvi nalazi mMinic emphasizes that the total number of promotional activities for 26 officials from the sample in the first 26 days of the campaign was 58 % higher than in the same period a year ago when there were no elections. He added that the number of promotional activities of the ten most active officials has more than doubled - it has increased by 118 per cent.

As in several previous election cycles, the most agile was deputy mayor of Belgrade Goran Vesić, with 32 promotional activities, twice as many as a year ago. The Minister of Youth and Sports Vanja Udovicic had 28 promotional activities in the observed period, which is an unprecedented increase compared to the non-election period, considering that he had only one such action last year, said Minic.

In this campaign, as before, there was a "combination" of official campaigning and party activities – officials come to a certain location to attend a promotional activity as government officials and then hold a party rally. Such combinations have been typical of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic,  and the ruling SNS party. He had 11 promotional activities in the previous 26 days, such as opening facilities or laying the foundation stone, of which six took place last week.

Nemanja Nenadic, TS Program Director, pointed out that, although the most significant amount of money (about 15.7 million euros) so far has been allocated from the budget for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2022, only less than 10% of that money was spent in the first three weeks of the campaign. The campaign was led to a significant extent only by the ruling SNS, which had advertising on TV stations and Facebook worth at least 600 thousand euros in the observed period.

There has been a significant increase in advertising on social networks, which is not adequately regulated. Most TV stations respected the legal obligation to publish a price list for advertising during the election campaign. Still, the legislator failed to prescribe such an obligation for advertising in other media types, Nenadic said. He added that only the SNS broadcast ads on TV stations in the first three weeks of the parliamentary election campaign, although ten more electoral lists had already been announced at that time.

He assessed that the reason could be that most parties do not have sufficient funds for advertising and that they rely on funding from the budget that will come only five days after the list of all participants in the elections is concluded.

Transparency Serbia estimates the total value of SNS advertisements so far between 61 and 86 million dinars (517,000 to 728,000 euros). The estimate varies because it is unknown for the moment whether this party will be entitled to maximum quantity discounts. In the same period, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) had leased terms on two cable TV stations, and the MP Vladimir Đukanović had one on TV Happy. No ad-pricelists were published for this type of advertising.

Given that there are fewer candidates and electoral lists than in previous elections (currently 16 electoral lists and a maximum of 8 presidential candidates), even those parties and coalitions that do not pass the threshold but win at least one per cent of the vote, will receive 588,000 euros for the campaign. Parties with a presidential candidate that pass the three per cent threshold will receive 738,000 euros for the campaign. Those who win 30 seats will receive one million and 152,000 euros. For an electoral list that wins half of mandates in the Assembly, and its candidate wins in the first round of the presidential elections, 7,645,000 euros comes from the budget, Nenadic explained.

He highlighted that the characteristic of this election campaign is a significant increase in party promotion through social networks and on the Internet. According to data published by Facebook, the value of direct advertising from various accounts of the ruling SNS party and its officials in the past month was close to 80,000 euros. Another 10,000 euros worth of advertising from several accounts promoting this party or criticizing its opponents. (e.g. "Pristojna Srbija", "Volimo srpsku opoziciju")  should be added to the sum mentioned above.




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