Wednesday, 18 April 2012

PACE Pre-election Observation Mission Members Talk to Representatives of National Assembly Parliamentary Groups

The Pre-election Observation Mission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, led by the Head of the PACE Pre-election Observation Mission Jean Charles Gardetto visited the National Assembly House today where its members talked, in separate meetings, with the representatives of the National Assembly Parliamentary Groups .

Gardetto stressed that they had come to Belgrade in preparation for the observation of the elections called for 6 May 2012, to acquaint themselves with the political situation in Serbia on the eve of the upcoming elections in order to prepare an opinion for the PACE. Their interest centered on issues relating to the amendments to the election law, financing of the election campaign, representation of women and ethnic minorities in the election process and representation of the political parties in the media.

The members of the Pre-election Observation Mission first met with the representatives of the Parliamentary Group For European Serbia – Nada Kolundzija, Prof. Dr Dragoljub Micunovic, Gordana Comic and Natasa Vuckovic.
The Head of the Parliamentary Group Nada Kolundzija stressed that the Democratic Party has a very clearly defined political programme and has always stood for Serbia in the European Union, Serbia as a modern European country.
Speaking about the changes to the election law, she stressed that the order on the electoral lists will be followed and as would the principle of one in three places on the electoral list being occupied by a woman. The political parties are financed partly from the budget and partly from donations, and Kolundzija opined that these elections would prove to be a test for the society as the higher degree of control over the financing would leave less room for corruption.
Gordana Comic briefed the guests on the goals the Democratic Party advocates in its programme and the role of the media in the election process, highlighting the introduction of mechanisms for following the law and controlling the equal representation of political parties in the media.
Natasa Vuckovic stressed that the DP would continue the ongoing processes and further judiciary reform and regional cooperation. She believes the DP has recognised the citizens’ need for a stable and predictable future of Serbia and offers what is best for them, paying special attention to the youth.
Taking part in the meeting, Prof. Dr Dragoljub Micunovic focused on the confusion of ideas created in the pre-election period, where some sides, including those which have until recently been fervently anti-European and nationalist, have become pro-European.

In the meeting with the representative of the Liberal Democratic Party Parliamentary Group, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Judita Popovic, the Head of the PACE Observation Mission showed particular interest in the LDP programme and difficulties the party has encountered in the election campaign.
Judita Popovic pointed out that establishing the truth about key state and social issues is the foundation of the party programme, which should be followed by an overturn in all of their segments. The LDP stands for thorough economic reform, continued judiciary reform and strengthening the institutions, as well as changes in the foreign policy and attitude to Euro-Atlantic organisations. These changes should result in modernising Serbia and expediting its’ accession to the European Union. As regards financing, the LDP receives less budget funds for the financing of its election campaign which reflects on the financing of its local boards. The party abides by the provisions of the Law on the Election of Members of Parliament relating to the representation of women and representatives of ethnic minorities on all lists, said Judita Popovic.

The members of the PACE Pre-election Observation Mission also met with the representative of the United Regions of Serbia Parliamentary Group, MP and member of the Delegation to the Council of Europe PA Zeljko Ivanji who emphasised his appreciation of the PACE’s participation in the election observation process in Serbia. Ivanji explained that the main goal of the URS party is decentralisation of Serbia which is also one of the most important European policies. Analysing the political parties’ pre-election activities, Ivanji said that they all focus on the topic of the citizens’ standard of living, while the issue of human rights is not that pronounced, and neither is corruption and how to fight it. Ivanji stressed that one third of the candidates on their electoral list are women adding that they have always made sure that that is the case. About financing, Ivanji said that the URS is financed by membership fees, budgetary funds and donations, as stipulated by the law.

In the continuation of the meeting, the members of the PACE Pre-election Observation Mission spoke to the representatives of the Minorities Parliamentary Group, MP and substitute member of the Delegation to the Council of Europe PA Elvira Kovacs and MP Riza Halimi.
Elvira Kovacs said that the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians formulated its electoral list focusing of territorial representation and legal obligation stipulating that one third of the candidates on the list should be women. Kovacs reminded that these elections were the first in which the new law on the financing of political parties is implemented, adding that securing electoral guarantee was the most difficult part. She explained that the AVH programme contains 12 items and minority issues have been addressed in a satisfactory manner. As regards media time, the national frequencies pay more attention to bigger parties, while the AVH is more present in regional and local media, said Kovacs adding that the national media invite their representatives to pre-election programmes.
MP Riza Halimi explained that the Party of Democratic Action will participate in the upcoming elections as part of a coalition of four parties dealing with the issues of Albanians in Serbia, stressing as the most important problems the almost 80% unemployment rate and poor integration of Albanians into society. Halimi said that his party is financed by symbolic membership fees, without donations and informed the guests that the people in the south of Serbia are urged to boycott the elections, adding that there is also a wide disinterest for the elections.

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