State and parties must provide maximum conditions for free elections!

On the occasion of the announcement of the local elections, CIVIL – Center for Freedom once more reminds on the obligations of the institutions and participants in the election race in that they must maximally  respect the democratic standards for conducting free elections.

In previous observations and analyses of the political processes in the election context and broader, CIVIL has noted serious problems and shortcomings. If these weaknesses are not eliminated, they will strongly reflect on election day and will compromise the voting rights of citizens, as has been the case in a large number of election processes in the past.

From previous monitoring, CIVIL notes that the pre-election campaign starts much earlier, before the date of their official announcement. We remind the political parties that, according to the Electoral Code, the campaign lasts 20 days before election day, and that is all!

CIVIL has warned several times that municipal resources are being abused in the electoral context. Political corruption, nationalist rhetoric, pressures on the electorate and many other issues have been noted throughout the country. These conditions are especially visible in the media and social networks.

The reforms and the democratization of the country are at the very beginning, hence we cannot expect for them to start functioning in such a short time, but all stakeholders need to put maximum efforts and a political will for the democratic process to be free, fair and democratic.

The Voters Register remains to be the greatest challenge for the State Election Commission, as well as for other relevant institutions that need to contribute to its revision. The public does not have trust in the Voters Register, which is an additional problem that the SEC has to face. On the election day in December 2016, thousands of citizens could not exercise their voting right, and there was no system for this problem to be addressed, and for the damages to be recovered. That cannot happen again! The memories of the local elections in 2013 are still fresh. Pustec must not be repeated!

CIVIL’s experience from the ground shows that the electoral boards do not know their work sufficiently, and not to mention that part of them work strictly under party dictation. The necessary reforms in the electoral system, the problems with the number of voters in the electoral units, the appeals procedure, competencies…All these are additional challenges that the institutions, and most of all the SEC, will have to deal with.

Let us hope that the Parliament and the institutions know better than us in which situation we are in, and how able they are to conduct free elections in October. The most important thing is to remember the obligation of the state, and that is to ensure maximum conditions for the citizens to vote freely, without pressures and fear.

CIVIL will continue with reinforced monitoring throughout the country, and will make available all of its resources and expertise at the disposal of the public and the institutions.


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