CRTA report: Election conditions remain unchanged

The first part of the campaign for the Belgrade local elections was marked by the lack of demarcation between the state and the ruling party, as well as divisions among former allies from the pro-Europe opposition bloc regarding the election boycott, says the First Interim Report of the Centre for Research, Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) Observation Mission.

The preliminary report underscores that the elections set for June 2 must be understood in the context of the significant compromise of the December voting process due to illegal and illegitimate electoral manipulation, such as mass voter migrations and tampering with the voter registry.

These upcoming elections are therefore a continuation of the electoral proceedings that began in December 2023, yet they proceed without adhering to ODIHR’s priority recommendation for an independent audit of the voter registry, reads the report.

Moreover, the period following the December elections has been filled with new doubts about the state of the voter registry, primarily triggered by contradictory information provided by the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, said the Observation Mission.

There is legitimate doubt surrounding the candidacy process.

Eight lists of candidates were approved by May 11, and of the 43 thousand signatures endorsing candidacies, three-quarters were verified by municipal authorities rather than notaries public.

This fact is concerning as previous cases of signature falsification in elections were mostly associated with municipal offices, said the Mission.

Further suspicion is deepened by the fact that some of the approved lists, which exclusively had their signatures verified by municipalities, only came to public attention upon the submission of their candidacies.

Despite these being local elections, topics relevant to the local community in the campaign are overshadowed by so-called pivotal national issues emphasized by the ruling majority, which manipulates state symbols, resources, and functions, said the CRTA.

CRTA observers also recorded increased pressure on public sector employees, who are made to travel to Belgrade from other cities during working hours to take part in the ruling party’s election campaign activities.

Media bias favoring the ruling party continues in the first half of the campaign for the Belgrade elections, with 91 percent of central news coverage on national television being allocated to actors from the ruling majority, while portraying the opposition predominantly in a negative light.

(CRTA.rs, 14.05.2024)

https://crta.rs/beogradski-izbori-teme-nacionalne-uslovi-uglavnom-nepromenjeni/

This post is also available in: Italiano

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