1 REPUBLIC OF SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS JANUARY 2008 Report by Siv-Katrine Leirtrø NORDEM Report 3/2008
2 Copyright: the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights/NORDEM and Siv-Katrine Leirtrø. NORDEM, the Norwegian Resource Bank for Democracy and Human Rights, is a programme of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), and has as its main objective to actively promote international human rights. NCHR and the Norwegian Refugee Council jointly administer NORDEM. NORDEM works mainly in relation to multilateral institutions. The operative mandate of the programme is realised primarily through the recruitment and deployment of qualified Norwegian personnel to international assignments that promote democratisation and respect for human rights. The programme is responsible for the training of personnel before deployment and reporting on completed assignments, and plays a role in research related to areas of active involvement. The vast majority of assignments are channelled through the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NORDEM Report is a series of reports documenting NORDEM activities and is published jointly by NORDEM and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. Series editor: Siri Skåre Series consultants: Kenneth de Figueiredo, Karin Lisa Kirkengen, Christian Boe Astrup The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers. ISSN: ISBN: NORDEM Report is available online at:
3 Preface Following an invitation from the Parliamentary Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Oliver Dulic, the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deployed a Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM) to Serbia to observe the presidential elections in The first round of the elections took place on 20 January, and the second round on 3 February. The International LEOM to Serbia s presidential election officially opened in Belgrade on 4 January. It was headed by Ambassador Nikolai Vulchanov and included nine international experts based in Belgrade and 12 long-term observers (LTOs) deployed across the country. The OSCE/ODIHR did not recruit short-term observers (STOs), as previous missions had expressed confidence in polling day procedures. Therefore, the OSCE/ODIHR only conducted limited election observation on the two election days. A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) joined the LEOM in the observation of the second round. The delegation consisted of three MPs and one staff member. They were divided in two teams, deployed to Novi Sad and Nis respectively. As for domestic observers, the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID) was accredited with 3,087 observers. They monitored every municipality throughout Serbia and carried out observation in randomly selected polling stations during both rounds. The Norwegian Resource Bank for Democracy and Human Rights (NORDEM) recruited one Norwegian LTO, Siv-Katrine Leirtrø, to the LEOM. Ms. Leirtrø was deployed to Novi Sad in the autonomous province of Vojvodina in Northern Serbia. The LTO s tasks consisted of observing the pre-election period, election day and the immediate post-election phase. This report is based on the observations and findings of the LEOM, as summarised in the two press releases annexed to this report, and the Norwegian observer. All opinions expressed in the report are the author s responsibility and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights/NORDEM. The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights / NORDEM University of Oslo April 2008
4 Contents Preface Contents Map of Country Introduction...1 Political Background...2 Presentation of Main Candidates and Parties...3 The Legislative Framework...6 The Electoral Administration...7 Composition of Election Commissions...7 Duties of Election Commissions...7 Voter and Civic Education...8 Voter Registration...9 Candidate Registration The Election Campaign The Media Observation on the Election Day Observation of the Opening Observation of the Polling Observation of the Closing and Counting Observation of the Tabulation The review of Complaints Process Conclusions and Recommendations Appendices OSCE/ODIHR: Press Release 21 January 2008 OSCE/ODIHR, CoE Parliamentary Assembly: Press Release 4 February 2008
5 Map of Country
6 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Introduction According to Serbia s new Constitution adopted in November 2006, new elections on all levels were to be called before the end of On 12 December 2007, Parliamentary Speaker Oliver Dulic called for presidential elections to be held on 20 January According to the Law on the Election of the President (LEP) of the Republic, if none of the candidates receives more than fifty per cent of the votes, a second round of voting must be organized within 15 days of the first Election Day. In its Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions issued after the second round on 04 February, the LEOM stated that: The second round of the presidential election in the Republic of Serbia was conducted essentially in line with OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards for democratic elections. The LEOM commended the electoral administration for conducting the elections in a professional and efficient manner. The observations of the Norwegian LTO confirm this assessment. The mission furthermore welcomed the introduction of legal provisions that allowed for voters to cast their ballots in their homes, at diplomatic missions abroad, as well as in prisons. The campaign took place in a peaceful manner and candidates widely toured the country, especially before the first round. The media provided voters with a broad coverage of the campaign and media outlets monitored by the LEOM generally gave a balanced and neutral coverage of the presidential candidates. The LTOs observed that this was also the case for local media outlets. On the two election days, voting was positively assessed by the LEOM and no significant irregularities or complaints were noted. However, several instances of faulty election-day procedures, including violations of the secrecy of the vote and family/group voting were observed. Relatively few complaints were lodged with the Republican Election Commission (REC). For the second round, only one complaint was upheld, resulting in the cancellation of results from one polling station. The team of the Norwegian LTO, team 3, was based in Novi Sad in Vojvodina. The Team s AoR was comprised of 34 municipalities. Vojvodina makes up almost a quarter of the Serbian territory with its 21,506 square kilometres. Novi Sad is the administrative, economic and cultural seat of the autonomous province. Vojvodina consists of 45 municipalities and seven districts, whose seats are Subotica, Zrenjanin, Kikinda, Pancevo, Sombor, Novi Sad and Sremska Mitrovica. Vojvodina borders to Hungary, Croatia, BiH and Romania. The Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (APV) is the highest representative organ of the province. According to the 2002 census, Vojvodina has 2,031,992 inhabitants, which is slightly more than 20 per cent of the total population of Serbia. With a population of , the Serbs make up the absolute
7 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS majority in the province. Then come the Hungarians (290,207), Croats (56,546), Slovaks (56,637), Montenegrins (35,513), Rumanians (30,419), Roma (29,057), Ruthenians (15,626), Macedonians (11,785) and other smaller ethnic groups like the Ukrainians, Albanians, Slovenians and others. A total of 26 nations and national and ethnic groups are represented in the area. 49,881 inhabitants declare themselves as Yugoslavs. The aim of this report is to present the findings and conclusions of the Norwegian LTO with regard to key areas of the electoral process. Generally, the findings correspond with those of the LEOM. Political Background The political landscape in Serbia is divided into two main groupings of parties. One is rooted in the past Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), which successfully opposed the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in The second grouping of parties has a more nationalist and radical character. The last parliamentary elections in Serbia took place on 21 January They were the first elections since the dissolution of the State of Union (SU) of Serbia and Montenegro (SaM) in 2006 and the adoption of the new Constitution. The Serbian Radical Party (SRS) won 32,4 per cent of the votes (resulting in 81 seats in the parliamentary assembly), the Democratic Party (DS) won 25,6 per cent (64 seats), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) in coalition with New Serbia (NS) 18,8 per cent (47 seats), G17 Plus 7.8 per cent (19 seats), the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) 6,4 per cent (16 seats) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in coalition with the Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS), League of Vojvodina Social Democrats (LSV) and the Social Democratic Union (SDU) received 6 per cent (15 seats) of the votes. The current government coalition was formed on 15 May 2007 after three months of negotiations. It consists of the DS including the Sandzak Democratic Party (SzDP), the coalition of DSS-NS, and G17 Plus. The coalition has 130 of the parliament's 250 seats. The government is headed by Vojislav Kostunica (DSS). The five key principles of the Government, as agreed in a coalition agreement between the parties in May 2007 were preservation of Kosovo as part of Serbia, EU integration, co-operation with the ICTY, improvement of the social conditions of the citizens and fighting corruption. The presidential election on 20 January 2008 was the first presidential election since the adoption of the new Constitution. The President is elected for a five-year term, by a majority of votes cast in direct election. On 3 January, the REC announced that it had registered a total of nine candidates to run in the elections. They were, according to how they appeared on the ballot: Tomislav Nikolic (Serbian Radical Party - SRS) Jugoslav Dobricanin (The Reformist Party - RP) Boris Tadic (Democratic Party DS) Velimir Ilic (New Serbia NS) Istvan Pasztor (Hungarian coalition)
8 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Marijan Risticevic (Peoples s Farmers Party - NSS) Cedomir Jovanovic (Liberal-Democratic Party LDP) Milutin Mrkonjic (Socialist Party of Serbia SPS) Milanka Karic (Movement Strength of Serbia PSS) The REC rejected Hadzi Andrej Milic's candidature on the basis of inappropriate documentation. Andrej Milic is known as the leader of the ultra nationalist organisation the Tsar Lazar Guard. Presentation of Main Candidates and Parties The top front-runners were considered to be Tomislav Nikolic (SRS), the incumbent president of Serbia Boris Tadic (DS) and Velimir Ilic (NS). Opinion polls prior to the first round consistently put Tomislav Nikolic in the first place followed by Boris Tadic, while Velimir Ilic trailed some distance behind. Tomislav Nikolic (SRS) Tomislav Nikolic was born in He dropped out of Law School to join a construction company. In 1992 he became the technical director of Kragujevac Public Communal Company. He first entered politics as a member of the National Radical Party in Kragujevac. He initiated the merging of this party and local councils of the Serb Chetnik Movement, led by Vojislav Seselj. The new party that emerged from this in 1991 was the SRS. Nikolic was elected vice president and his position has been confirmed through internal elections four times. When the Radicals entered Milosevic's government in 1998, Mr. Nikolic was appointed deputy prime minister. He held the same position in a reshuffled Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ) cabinet until the fall of the Milosevic regime. Mr. Nikolic was elected parliamentary speaker on 8 May 2007, when an ad-hoc coalition made up of the DSS, NS and SPS backed his bid. He resigned when 128 members of parliament sought his dismissal five days later. Mr. Nikolic ran for president for the first time in the 24 September 2000 election, and came in third, behind Vojislav Kostunica and Slobodan Milosevic. The SRS vice president was consequently twice his party's candidate in the presidential election, in 2003 and 2004, both times unsuccessfully. Mr. Nikolic won one invalid presidential election, in which less than 50 per cent of the citizens voted. In the first round of the Serbian presidential election in 2004 he won 30 per cent of votes and lost in the second round to Boris Tadic. SRS can be defined as a conservative nationalist party. The party president Vojislav Seselj is awaiting trial in The Hague for war crimes during the war in Croatia and BiH. SRS is against NATO integration and peacekeeping missions are defined as occupational. SRS is in favour of EU integration, but only if EU accepts Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia Jugoslav Dobricanin (RP) Jugoslav Dobricanin was born in 1956 in Kursumlija. He is the candidate of the Reformist Party based in Nis. Dobricanin graduated from the Military academy in Belgrade. He did his MA in military history at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade. During his career in the army he was teaching at the Military academy. He retired in 2006 as Commander of the Nis military department. In 2007, he decided to join the Reformist Party. As he states, he did this in order to represent the interests of the citizens of the Nis region and to finally have one regional party making decisions for the region. RP took part in the 2007 parliamentary elections and won only 0.05 per cent or 1,881 of the votes. The leader of the Reformist Party is Aleksandar Visnjic. A former member of OTPOR, the movement involved in the removal of Milosevic from power, Visnjic formed the Reformist Party after leaving DS.
9 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Boris Tadic (DS) Boris Tadic was born in Sarajevo in Mr. Tadic has an MA in Philosophy. In 1997 he established the Centre for Development of Democracy and Political Skills. Since 2003, he has been a professor of politics and advertising at the Belgrade University. He joined the DS in In late 2002, Mr. Tadic became deputy speaker of the Federal parliament and minister of defence on 17 March 2003 (until April 2004). In February 2004, Mr. Tadic was elected the president of DS. He became Serbia's president on 27 June 2004, after a run-off against Tomislav Nikolic. He won per cent of the votes. DS claims to have the longest tradition of all current political parties in Serbia. Among the founders of the modern DS, established in 1989, were late PM Zoran Djindjic, Vojislav Kostunica and Dragoljub Micunovic. DS is in favour of a realistic political strategy on Kosovo, intensifying diplomatic action, protection of cultural heritage and integration of Serbia into the EU, NATO and international economic institutions. It also favours cooperation with the Hague Tribunal. Velimir Ilic (NS) Velimir "Velja" Ilic was born in Cacak in Mr. Ilic started his career in a local construction company in Cacak, and later established a private company. He stayed in the realms of private entrepreneurship for the next 20 years, until he was elected mayor of Cacak in His first political steps were taken in 1990, with the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) lead by opposition leader Vuk Draskovic. In 1998, he established New Serbia (NS). He played an important role during the 2000 protests. He was elected mayor of Cacak twice (in 1996 and 2000) and Member of Parliament (MP) to the Serbian parliament in 1993 and to the SaM parliament in 2000 to From 2004 to 2007 he was the Minister for Capital Investment. Ilic already ran for president once, in November 2003, when he came in third, having won 229,229 votes (9.08 per cent). He was re-appointed infrastructure minister in May NS can be defined as a moderate nationalist political party. NS ran in the 2007 elections in a coalition with the DSS, securing eight seats. The DSS, established in 1992 by Vojislav Kostunica, is the largest conservative party in Serbia. The party was a founding member of DOS, but split from it in DSS-NS is part of the governmental coalition that defines itself as European, democratic and traditional. Istvan Pasztor (Hungarian Coalition, SVM) Istvan Pasztor was born in 1956, in Novi Knezevac in Vojvodina. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Novi Sad. He has been politically active since In 1994 he became member of the party Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM). Mr. Pasztor has been a member of municipal, provincial and state assemblies. Since 2000, he has been the provincial secretary for privatisation. Mr. Pasztor is the presidential candidate of the Hungarian Coalition, which consists of three Hungarian parties in Vojvodina. These are: the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM), the Democratic Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (VMDK/Pal Sandor) and the Democratic Party of Vojvodina (VMDP/Andras Agoston). It is the first time that political representatives of the Vojvodina Hungarians have come to an agreement over important political goals. The coalition favours amendments to the Constitution that will improve the position of the Hungarian minority. It is for a strengthening of the Hungarian minority rights through elections for the national minority councils. Mr. Pazstor s candidacy was considered a test-case before the local and provincial elections due to be held on 11 May 2008.
10 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Marijan Risticevic (NSS) Marijan Risticevic was born in 1958, in Novi Karlovci in Vojvodina. He graduated from the College for Work Management. From 1979 until 1985, Mr. Risticevic was working in the factory Motor and Tractor Industry. Since 1986, he has been involved in agricultural production at his own property. He has been the president of the People s Farmers Party since Mr. Risticevic was a candidate in the 2004 presidential elections and won 0.33 per cent of the votes. In the 2003 parliamentary elections, NSS took part within a nationalistically oriented coalition that consisted of five parties. The coalition won 1.79 per cent of the votes. The main political interests of the NSS are modernization of agricultural production and renewal of Serbian villages. The party is in favour of preservation of Kosovo. Cedomir Jovanovic (LDP) Cedomir Jovanovic was born in 1971 in Belgrade. In 1998, Mr. Jovanovic graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts. He was engaged as a freelance journalist and was one of the leaders of the student protests in the late 1990s. He was the founder of the Student Political Club, which in 1998 joined the Democratic Party (DS). The DS congress held in 2001 appointed him as one of the party s vice presidents. After the March 2003 assassination of DS leader and Serbian prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, Mr. Jovanovic and two other deputies led the party until February 2004, when Boris Tadic was appointed new party president. At the DS party convention in February 2004 three candidates, Boris Tadic, Zoran Zivkovic and Cedomir Jovanovic, ran for party president. There was a common agreement between the three that the two candidates not elected should step down from party politics. Mr. Jovanovic very soon became critical towards Mr. Tadic s leadership style and was expelled from DS due to a difference of opinion. LDP was founded in 2005 by a fraction of the DS. The party defines itself as a social liberal party. LDP reached a coalition agreement for the 2007 parliamentary elections with the GSS, LSV and SDU. The coalition won 6 per cent of the vote, gaining 15 seats in the assembly. In the assembly, LDP remains in opposition. LDP favours the reconciliation process in the region and cooperation with the neighbouring countries and sees independence of Kosovo as inevitable. Milutin Mrkonjic (SPS) Milutin Mrkonjic was born in 1942 in Belgrade. Mr. Mrkonjic graduated from the Faculty of Civil Engineering of Belgrade in He was the head of the Reconstruction Agency after the NATO military intervention in Since 8 May 2007, Mr. Mrkonjic has been the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. He is one of the founding members of SPS, which he established together with Slobodan Milosevic in The Party was formed by unification of the League of Communists of Serbia and the Federation of Socialist Workers of Serbia. SPS won the elections in Serbia in 1990 with 194 out of 250 seats and 46.1 per cent of the vote. From 1992 it governed in coalition with other parties initially with the SRS, later with the New Democratic Party. SPS was in power until October 2000 when it yielded its power to the DOS coalition. SPS leader Slobodan Milosevic was extradited to the Hague Tribunal in June With the ousting of Milosevic in 2000, SPS joined the opposition. Despite winning 22 seats in the December 2003 parliamentary elections, SPS has been unable to exploit politically its swing role in parliament. In the presidential election in June 2004, SPS candidate and then the de facto leader Ivica Dacic received a very poor 3.5 per cent of the vote, less than half the party's showing in December. The party considers itself as the only true left wing party in Serbia and is against letting NATO troops into Serbia before the Kosovo issue is solved.
11 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Milanka Karic (PSS) Milanka Karic was the only female candidate in these elections. She was campaigning on behalf of her husband Bogoljub Karic, famous media mogul and businessman who developed his business during the 90 s. Bogoljub Karic is currently under investigation by Serbian authorities for fraud. The damage made to the Serbian state is estimated to $400 mil. He is still at large. Mrs. Karic was born in Pec, in Kosovo. She studied Law and worked in her husband s company while in Kosovo. In 1979 she founded, together with her sisters-in-law, the first Social Council of her husband s company, which grew into the BK Foundation. The BK Foundation is a non-governmental, humanitarian organization offering help to individuals and institutions. Bogoljub Karic ran for President of Serbia in the presidential elections held in June 2004 and he came in third receiving 18.2 per cent of the votes. PSS participated in the parliamentary elections in January The Legislative Framework The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and the Law on the Election of the President (LEP) are the main laws that regulate the presidential elections. They are supplemented by the Law on the Election of Representatives (LER), which covers the technical aspect of organizing the elections, the Law on Financing the Political Parties, as well as by the regulations and instructions issued by the Republic Election Commission (REC). On 30 September 2006, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia called for endorsement of the new Constitution by conducting a referendum. Subsequently, in November 2006, the new Constitution was adopted. In addition, the Law on Implementation of the Constitution was passed, which prescribed a number of legal and institutional adaptations, as well as deadlines for scheduling parliamentary, presidential, provincial and municipal elections. On 19 March 2007, the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe issued an assessment of the newly adopted Constitution. While it welcomed the adoption of the new Constitution reflecting democratic ideals, some concerns were highlighted, in particular in the area of the judiciary, as well as political party control of mandates of individual members of the parliament and the role of parliament in judicial appointments. The presidential elections were conducted with the newly adopted LEP. On 3 December 2007, the National Assembly adopted the new law, which automatically annulled the earlier laws. Further, the instructions for the enforcement of the law on the election of the president and rules and procedures for the work of voting boards (VB) for conducting elections of the president were adopted. The LER was assessed by ODIHR and the Venice Commission in its recent joint work as a law that includes a number of important safeguards to promote democratic election practices. The assessment specifically stresses that There are numerous measures designed to enhance transparency in the organization and conduct of the election and to protect the security of the ballot.
12 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Nevertheless, it is recognized that in some areas, the law fails to fully comply with OSCE commitments and international standards and best practices for democratic elections. Areas of concern include the in camera adjudication of election disputes at the Supreme Court, the lack of an intermediate level of election administration, as well as the lack of provisions on international and domestic non-partisan election observation in the election law. The effort of the government to amend the law has been demonstrated by stipulating in the Constitution that the new LER shall be enacted, however, to date, no law has been adopted. The Electoral Administration Composition of Election Commissions Presidential elections in Serbia are administered by a two-tiered election Administration: the REC and approximately 8,600 polling boards (PBs). Despite recommendations from past observation missions and the Venice Commission, the LEP does not provide for intermediary election commissions between the REC and PBs. The REC has partially addressed this issue by creating municipal Working Bodies (WGs). The administration is also supported by an intermediate level of regional coordinators, members of the REC, as prescribed by REC ad hoc instructions. The initially appointed members of the REC and PBs work in a permanent set-up. Ultimately this composition is extended as each registered candidate s submitter - a party, coalition or citizen group have the right to nominate a member to every election authority body. All members are appointed simultaneously in pairs with a deputy for every member. It is strictly forbidden for relatives of candidates to be appointed or delegated to a commission or PB either as members or deputies. No party, coalition of parties or citizen group may have more than half of the members of the permanent set-up at any electoral level. Duties of Election Commissions The REC permanent set-up consists of a President and 16 members, all appointed by the National Assembly. The mandate of the REC members is 4 years and expires in February The REC applies and interprets the LEP, LER and oversees the legality of the election process. It appoints PB members and PB presidents. It also establishes and announces the results of the elections, including the allocation of mandates to each list. The Polling Boards (PB) consist of one President and two members. Members of the PBs and their deputies are appointed for each electoral process. The Coordinators of the REC are appointed by the REC. The REC appoints among its members and deputies one (or more) district coordinator, who will perform, on the territory of the district or abroad, specific tasks related to the organization, and carrying out of the election. The main function of the coordinator is to deliver the election
13 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS material to the WBs before the elections and to receive it back from them after the polls are concluded. The Working bodies (WB) of the REC are appointed in every municipality, including the 17 municipalities of Belgrade and the cities of Kragujevac, Nis and Novi Sad. In a given district, the REC appoints the members of the municipal WBs upon proposal from and in proportion of the political groups represented in Parliament. The WB receives the election materials from the coordinator before the elections to be delivered to the PBs and returns them back to the coordinator after the elections, upon receiving the materials from the PBs. The WBs have their premises in the municipality offices and shall be supported and coordinated by the chief municipal administrator. The Norwegian LTO s area of responsibility (AoR), Vojvodina, was comprised of 34 municipalities. With respect to the electoral bodies, the overall perception gained during meetings with the stakeholders was that they were not fully familiar with the process of the composition as well as the decision making process of the REC. The conclusion is based on the findings of meetings held with different representatives of electoral bodies such as coordinators of the WGs, employees in the municipal administrations as well as some deputy members of the REC responsible for coordination in some of the regions in Vojvodina. The stakeholders seemed to be fully familiar with their job before and during the election day but they were not familiar with the procedure of electing and nominating candidates for electoral bodies. In general, stakeholders in the elections (members of the administration and political actors) in Vojvodina were satisfied with the composition and functioning of the electoral bodies. None of the stakeholders had complaints about the voter list. The WGs in Vojvodina were composed of 2 members from DS, 2 from SRS and 1 from DSS. Voter and Civic Education The two main political parties, SRS and DS, were actively teaching their respective electorates about voting procedures. Both parties conducted an extensive door-to-door campaign. Both parties executive councils were intensively training its PB members. The Belgrade-based Centre for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID) conducted a door-to-door campaign in Novi Sad between the two rounds aimed at increasing the turnout. The Center for Modern Skills (CMV) was active throughout the whole election campaign, targeting young people and women. They conducted a campaign Volim da biram, biram da volim (I love to vote, I vote to love). The campaign started 11 January and appealed to women to participate in the elections. CMV organized several rallies and was trying to encourage women to vote. They also organized a questionnaire entitled If I was the president, the first thing I would do is/ Da sam ja Presednica Srbije, prvo bih uradila sledece. The campaign was conducted throughout Serbia, and was held in Kikinda, in the Norwegian LTO s AoR, on 14 January. The campaign received a lot of media attention. On 20 January CMV called all the women that had left their phone number on the questionnaire to remind them to go out and vote. CMV, together with two other NGOs (Centre for development in Serbia/Centar za razvoj Srbije and the Belgrade fund for political exceptionality
14 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS /Beogradski fond za političku izuzetnost), distributed a pamphlet entitled The secrecy of the ballot box/ Tajna Glasacke Kutije. The campaign also targeted young people voting for the first time. CMV sent out a pamphlet to 10,000 addresses in 12 cities throughout Serbia (Beograd, Arilje, Backa Topola, Becej, Kovacica, Leskovac, Pecinci, Sombor, Sremska Mitrovica, Veliko Gradiste, Zrenjanin and Subotica). The non-governmental organisation EXIT, based in Novi Sad, is normally dealing with cultural events and is very popular among the younger generations. EXIT has been active in every election since Between the two rounds they organised concerts in Novi Sad, Nis and Belgrade aimed at increasing the turnout among the young. On Election Day, EXIT organised concerts in the abovementioned cities. Instead of paying a cover charge, people had to show the voting spray on their fingers. The main mottos of the campaign were Nema zezanje, najbolje zezanje je u Nedelju 3 Februara (No joking, the best joke is on Sunday, 03 February) and Nema zezanje u Nedelju 3 Februara (No jokes on Sunday 03 February). In Vojvodina, the turnout in the second round increased from 63 per cent in the first round to 70 per cent. Voter Registration Voter registration is regulated by the LEP and the Instructions for the enforcement of the LER. There is no central register in Serbia and there is no cooperation between the different municipalities. Article 19 of the LEP obliges the competent agency to notify citizens, by a public announcement or through the mass media, that they may inspect the voter list and request enlistment into or removal from the voter list, as well as removal, modification, amendment or correction of the voter list. Furthermore, the Instructions for the enforcement of the LEP provide detailed explanations of the preparation of the extracts of the voter list, and its deadlines. The municipal administration is in charge of the voter register, passing the decision on closing the voter register and preparing extracts for each PS. It shall also submit the extract from the voter register to the REC within 24 hours from the moment when the decision on its closing has been made. According to the REC, the total number of registered voters for the 20 January elections was 6,708,697. There were 8,573 PSs in Serbia, and 65 PSs abroad. During the two rounds there were 15,065 changes made in the voter list throughout Serbia. Voting rights are guaranteed both by the Constitution and the LEP. According to Article 52 of the Constitution, every citizen who is of age and working capacity is entitled to vote. Furthermore, the LEP safeguards the voting rights by stipulating that nobody shall have the right to prevent someone from voting or force the voter to vote, to call him/her to account for having voted or not, or to request to be answered why s/he has not voted or for who, s/he has voted. Immediately after the day of elections is set, the Ministry of Justice informs the voters with residence abroad of the day of the elections and advises them to update the register with the Diplomatic and Consular Offices of the Republic of Serbia. The Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government prepares the extracts of the voter register for each PS abroad and submits them to the REC. In all visited municipalities in Vojvodina it was clearly stated that there were no problems in regards to the voter list. The municipalities maintain the voter lists on a
15 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS regular basis, have good cooperation with other stakeholders (police, centre for social care, etc.) and undergo regular controls or supervisions by the Ministry of public administration and local self-government. There is no coordination with other municipalities regarding voter list maintenance or double entries. In Novi Sad during the last year 27,367 changes were made in the voter list. 13,000 of them are new entries in the voter list, 4,500 are deleted entries and around 7,000 are changes of residence. After the deadline for changes in the voter list, 73 court decisions were made with regard to voter list entries and these changes were also introduced into the list. Citizens were able to check their entries in 45 places. Candidate Registration In comparison to the practice elsewhere, the law provides for a rather young minimum age for running for the presidency. Any citizen of the Republic of Serbia, who has attained 18 years of age and has legal capacity, is eligible to run as a president. The candidates for president of the Republic of Serbia can be nominated by a political party or citizens group, and shall be supported by 10,000 voters signatures verified by court. As a safeguard of the rights and freedoms of the voters, the law forbids any pressure on the voter to support any of the potential candidates, and also prohibits the collection of signatures in the workplace. 1 The nominations shall be submitted to the REC no later than 20 days before election day. The candidate may renounce his/her candidacy no later than the day upon which the list of candidates for the election of the president is determined. The renunciation of candidacy shall be submitted to the REC in writing, with the signature of the candidate, verified by court, endorsed. Several interlocutors indicated to LTO Team 3 that only the two runner-up candidates, Nikolic and Tadic, could possibly have managed to gather the 10,000 needed signatures to register legally. It was also indicated that several fictive names, including dead people, were on the lists of the other seven candidates. A shortage of time from the calling of the elections to the deadline for submission of the needed signatures, made it harder for the candidates to collect and verify the signatures. However, the interlocutors stated that none of the parties have an interest in solving the problem, nor did they consider that it would influence the outcome of the elections. The Election Campaign The LEOM concluded that the campaign environment during both rounds of the election was competitive and calm. In both rounds, the incumbent President Boris Tadic of the 1 Article 10; Law on the Election of the President
16 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DS and Tomislav Nikolic of the SRS were the candidates subject to most public interest. Apart from these two Cedomir Jovanovic of the LDP and Velimir Ilic of NS, who was also supported by the DSS, had the most visible campaigns. All four candidates campaigned throughout the country through advertising campaigns and rallies. There are no provisions in the LEP regulating the campaign period, thus provisions from the LER apply. Article 5 introduces a 48-hour election silence period, when campaign activity and publication of election results is prohibited. Campaign activities outside of the media are not covered in detail in the law. Some general rules applicable to campaigning (non-media) are scattered around in the text of the LER. For example Article 55 of the Law prohibits display of symbols of political parties and other advertising materials within 50 meters from the polling place. In addition, Article 105 provides for a strict punishment for using force, serious threat, bribe or other manner of compulsion in order to force another person not to vote in the election for representatives, or to vote for a particular electoral list. LTO Team 03 did not observe any breach of Article 55 on election day. Before the second round of the elections, DS officials expressed concerns that there might be attempts by SRS to poster election material close to the PSs, in order to annul the election results. This was an expected scenario, especially in case of a clear win by Mr. Tadic. The DS claimed that DS campaign material had been stolen by SRS, to be used for this purpose. To avoid this from happening, DS officials trained its PB members on how to act in case this scenario took place. However, this strategy was not used on election day. Financing of the campaign for the presidential elections is regulated by the Law on the Financing of the Political Parties. Funds for the financing of these activities may be obtained from public and private sources, in accordance with this law. A report should be filed with the REC regarding the funds raised and spent during the election campaign within 10 days after the elections. However, there are no penalties for candidates not submitting a financial report after the elections. The election campaign was mainly conducted in accordance with the Law. Civil and political rights were widely respected and there were no major incidents. There were a few clashes between DS and SRS supporters, but only with minor impact. There were accusations to the effect that some of the candidates, like Marijan Risticevic and Jugoslav Dobricanin, were running for president due to the money they would receive to run. However, between the two rounds, only two candidates; Cedomir Jovanovic and Marijan Risticevic submitted a financial report to the REC. They had spent 300,000 Euro and 125,000 Euro respectively. The general impression is that the campaign of the candidates on national level was just reflected or copied in the province of Vojvodina. The main difference between the two rounds was the rhetoric used by the political parties representatives. Namely, both parties accused each other of manipulating the electorate in the local media. During the TV debates among the MPs from DS and SRS a series of allegations was made. An advertisement from SRS shown on the local TV in Novi Sad contained negative representations of LSV, which openly supports DS. The main representatives of this party were presented as traitors of the state by showing footage of their attendance at cultural manifestations and events mainly organised by the minorities in Vojvodina.
17 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS Other campaign materials, such as posters and leaflets were displayed and distributed in the cities in Vojvodina. The general perception was that SRS had stronger campaign activities and field presence in terms of spreading campaign material. There were indications that article 105 in the LER (concerning pressure on voters) was freely interpreted. There where allegations from all sides that certain political parties were bribing some groups of people to vote for them. Humanitarian packages were distributed, especially to the Roma population. In Sombor, DS organised transportation to the PS for the elderly in the Roma settlement to enable them to vote. The Media The LEOM concluded that A variety of media provided candidates with mostly neutral coverage, as well as free and paid advertising. The Constitution guarantees freedom of the media and the right to information. The campaign in the media is regulated in detail in the LER, requiring media outlets to ensure equality. Parties are entitled to free time in the public media for promotion of their programs and electoral lists. Article 5 states the general rule that citizens have the right to be informed by the mass media about both the electoral programs and activities of submitters of the electoral lists, as well as about candidates on the electoral lists. The mass media are due to ensure equal accessibility of information about all submitters of electoral lists, as well as about all candidates on these electoral lists. Publications of estimated electoral results are forbidden in the electoral silence period 48 hours before the election day, as well as during the election day until the closing of the polling stations. There are specific fines for publishing an estimate of the election results or the preliminary results during the electoral silence. On 23 December 2007 the Radio Diffusion Agency (RDA) Council issued the General Binding Instructions to Radio and Television Stations on Conduct in the Preelection Campaign for the Presidential Elections The adoption of this document is in line with Article 12 of the Broadcasting Law and provides useful guidelines to broadcasters on conduct in the pre-election campaign. Additionally, the RDA Council adopted a recommendation to Commercial Radio and Television Stations on the Sale of Time Slots in the Campaign for the Presidential Elections This recommendation stated that all the nine presidential candidates should be equally covered. The LEOM observed that: Serbia s media landscape is characterized by a wide diversity of media outlets operating in a largely free environment. The public broadcasters provided contestants with equitable opportunities to convey their campaign messages. All candidates were given an equal amount of free airtime. Public TV station RTS1 provided relatively balanced coverage of the candidates in its news program, although it favored the incumbent president to some degree. Private broadcasters TV Pink and TV B92 dedicated their coverage mainly to candidates supported by political parties represented in Parliament.
18 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS The combined coverage on RTS1, TV B92, and TV Pink amounted to about three hours daily, more than half of which was paid advertising. Only a few debates were broadcast prior to the first round. The news coverage of the candidates tended to be neutral. The Parliament failed to establish a supervisory board to monitor the conduct of the media and candidates in the campaign, as prescribed by law. A number of candidates and media outlets expressed concern about the continued lack of such a monitoring mechanism. In Vojvodina, the consequences of the RDA recommendation were that some of the minor media like Radio021 did not have the capacity to follow the presidential elections during the first round. They rather focused on voter s rights. Radio021 did cover the second round of the elections. Both Radio021 and the Novi Sad based daily newspaper Dnevnik stated that they would concentrate more on the elections during the provincial and local elections on 11 May No intimidations or pressure on the media were reported in Vojvodina and several interlocutors stated that the level of freedom of speech in Serbia is high. In Novi Sad there were no media openly biased towards one of the candidates. Observation on the Election Day The LEOM concluded that the first round of voting in Serbia s presidential election was conducted mostly in line with OSCE commitments for democratic elections, and that the second round was in line with international standards. During the election days, LTO team 3 visited 17 PSs in Vojvodina. There were few serious irregularities observed. Overall, the work of the PBs and WGs was well organized in almost all visited PSs. The voters demonstrated a high level of voting culture even in the overcrowded PSs. Observation of the Opening The opening procedures in the PS observed were fully respected. The opening protocols were signed, the ballot box sealed and the election materials were available. The OSCE/ODIHR observers access to the PS was very good. Observation of the Polling The election procedures at regular PSs include sealing the box, securing the box with a control sheet, checking the voter s finger with an UV lamp, identifying the voter (by an ID card, passport or driving license), circling the ordinal number in front of the voter s name, spraying the voter s finger with indelible ink before s/he signs the voter list, receives a ballot, marks it in secrecy and places it in the ballot box. Voting out of the PS or homebound voting was available for all voters who were unable to visit the PS and who informed the PB about this before 11:00 on election day. In all of the visited PSs the voting procedure regarding identification was respected. Only in a PS in the remote village of Titel, the voters were voting without ID documents. None of the members of the PB objected to this, claiming that there were only 410 voters in the voter list and all of them were relatives and stated that it was embarrassing to ask for ID documents. According to the LER, if voting without a valid ID takes place, the voting in the specific PS should be repeated. Some PSs were not adapted and suitable for
19 SERBIA: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS voting. In some PSs, two PBs were placed together, other PSs were very small and easily overcrowded, especially during the first round. The secrecy of the vote was often compromised, as the set up allowed PB members or other people present in the PS (media, observers or other voters) to see into the voting booth. The quality of the ballot papers was poor. In a PS in Kac the president of the voting board informed the team that campaign material had been placed within 50 meters of the PS. However after the intervention of the WG the material was removed before the opening of the PS. This polling station was also the scene of a disturbance during the voting, as one voter aggressively complained because the PB did not allow him to vote because his ID card had expired. The PB members calmed down the situation without any incidents. In another PS, a mistake was made with the counting of the ballot papers during the opening of the PS. Unofficially the team was told by some of the PB representatives that other members of the PB belonging to SRS accused the members of the PB from DS of hiding one ballot paper. This situation created commotion in the PS and the members of DS called their provincial party electoral office. After the re-counting all members realized that they had made a mistake in the counting of the papers and they agreed that they would not file any complaints. There were no verbal complaints in the visited PSs. No big queues or overcrowded PSs were registered. Only in the closing hours a bigger turnout was evident and queues appeared. However, this did not affect the work of the PB. In almost all of the visited PSs homebound voting was registered. In some of the PSs the team was told by the presidents of the PB that in the second round the number of homebound voters was higher than in the previous round. Family voting was registered in some locations. Mostly this was seen among older generations. The PBs did not react on these occasions. No PBs were dissolved. The general perception is that the PBs performed their duties well during the process of voting. Observation of the Closing and Counting The counting observed for the first round was slightly chaotic due to the high number of PB members present. The PB was also not fully aware of the procedures. The performance of the PB in the observed PS in Novi Sad was satisfactory. The organization of the PB was very good and although the turnout in this PS was more than 70 per cent (1,663 votes), the PB finished its job in a very efficient manner. The cooperation between the PB members was very good. The circled numbers in the voter list were checked against the number of ballot papers and there were no technical problems with filling in the protocols. Full access for observation was granted to OSCE/ODIHR observers. The procedures were followed in a transparent manner. Observation of the Tabulation After the closing of the PS, LTO Team 3 followed the PB to the WG placed in the municipal administration building, where the PB handed over the voting material and results. In the municipal administration building in Novi Sad the WG were divided into six groups in six different offices. One WG member headed each office and the Head of the municipal administration headed the sixth one. Each office had one deputy from the municipal administration to secure that the proper procedures were followed, since the WG members are politically appointed and not necessarily fully familiar with the working process. Once the voting material and results were handed over they were registered into a database and sent over to the REC electronically. The hardcopies were sent by car to the