Only three per cent of votes will be sufficient in the upcoming local and parliamentary elections in Serbia, to win seats in the Parliament,
Citing sources in the government, the Serbian media report that the Parliament will amend the Law on Election of Representatives as well as the Law on Local Election in a session next month, and change current provisions according to which only the list that crosses the five per cent threshold are entitled to seats in the parliament.
The session is likely to take place at the beginning of February.
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According to the media, the ruling coalition has a majority to pass the decision to decrease the threshold from five to three per cent, which will make it easier for small political parties and coalitions to enter the Parliament.
“A fake opposition must be put in parliament and winning 5% of votes is currently impossible for them”, said Dragan Djilas, president of the opposition party “Freedom and Justice” (Sloboda i Pravda), in his tweet.
Professor Milan Jovanovic of the Faculty of Political Science believes that such a move would actually mean an attempt by the ruling coalition to weaken an alliance that has decided to boycott the upcoming elections, “because reducing the electoral threshold directly increases the chances of certain minor parties entering the Parliament, which otherwise would not even come close to the electoral threshold. This is directly, politically speaking, aimed at weakening the election boycott,” reports the Voice of America.
Bojan Klacar of CESiD also agrees that the political aspect of such change, if actually adopted, lies in the authorities’ attitude towards the announced boycott. However, Klacar says that it remains unclear whether such a proposal will actually be adopted.
Electoral threshold: a manipulation tool
“This solution should be viewed more in the context of day-to-day politics, rather than in the debate on electoral reform, because it is not a good solution to introduce major changes less than four months before the election; it does not leave enough time for all the protagonists to get used to the consequences of such a decision,” says Klacar, adding that it would be better to leave the issue not for the spring 2020 elections, but for the next round of elections.
Professor Milan Jovanovic believes that the electoral threshold is one of the easiest elements to manipulate in the electoral system, in addition to constituencies, because “you can manipulate the number of parties that will win seats in the parliament”.
What does the change in electoral threshold involve?
In his view, the entry of small parties into parliament increases the likelihood of them being blackmailed, especially in a situation where their vote is crucial to forming a government.
“With the growing potential for blackmail, impossible coalitions could be formed, while on the other hand, when you have a strong dominant party, small parties can exchange their vote for seats on boards of directors, ministries and the like,” says Jovanovic, pointing out that when the survival of the government depends on small parties, the idea is more about preserving that power than implementing state policy.
(Voice of America, 12.01.2020)
This post is also available in: Italiano