State officials in functionary campaign ahead of local vote in Serbia

The Transparency Serbia  said on Wednesday that the 17 visits of top state officials to the eastern and western towns of Zajecar and Kosjeric, respectively, ahead of the local elections there, were a part of the so-called functionary campaign.

In the last four years, TS added that the officials visited the towns 22 times between the two ballots.

„That means that from February 27 since the first ministerial stop by until March 24, the frequency of visits during the election campaign was 37.6 times more recurrent than between the votes, TS said.

It added that such a drastic difference, together with the promotion of local authorities’ politicians, clearly showed it wasn’t „the performing of regular activities,“ but a functionary campaign.

The organisation reiterated it had been warning about such campaign involving state officials in local events, which had always served only in their media promotion.

„The visits by ministers to local administrations’ officials, signing contracts, touring factories and promising new investments are not banned unless the parties’ symbols are used. That gives those political organisations much higher unpaid media promotion,“ TS said.

TS added the opportunity to bring rules preventing the functionary campaign was missed in the current Law on Preventing Corruption and during the changes in the laws that followed the last years’ dialogue on election’s conditions.