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Disrespecting of rules and inadequate amounts for campaign financing from municipality budgets

Transparency – Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) monitors this year as well, election campaign financing. Law on Financing of Political Activities regulates financing of election participants and parliamentarian parties from the municipality budgets.

Research conducted by TS on a sample of 25 cities and municipalities (one from every county) showed that just 4% of municipalities respected legal regulation, by clearly stating the amount allocated for the campaign, as well as for financing of regular activities and determined amounts in compliance with legal criteria. Almost half of cities and municipalities didn’t have clearly presented budgets on their web-sites, which made this research harder. Transparency – Serbia emphasizes that these loopholes are a consequence of the fact that respecting of legal norms on the amount of allocation is not being controlled by any state organ during the adoption of the budget.

Second problem that we identified with this research is inadequate amount for election campaign financing. Thus, in average, electoral list holder in monitored municipalities will receive in advance approximately 10.000 of RSD for the purpose of campaign financing. In smaller municipalities that amount is even below 2 thousand RSD, and even in larger cities of more than 100 thousand inhabitants, amount does not exceed necessary sum to pay even one billboard. This time it is obvious, even before submitting of financial reports, that most of the campaign expenses will be related to TV stations with national broadcasting and that it will predominantly be paid with money that party and coalitions receive from the budget for parliamentarian elections. However, it is obvious that municipality budgets’ allocations are inappropriate. Due to that, small regional parties and local civil groups are in extremely unfortunate position, because their competitors enter the election race with disproportionately higher budget allocations.

The goals of financing of political parties from the budget are not being clearly and logically defined, which we pointed out to in 2011, when the Law was drafted and in 2014, when it was amended. Transparency – Serbia therefore considers that amendments to the Law should clearly define the purpose of this allocation of the citizens’ money (e. g. minimal expenses of presentation to the voters). Only when the purpose is clear, the amount of this budget allocation and method of distribution can be determined.