Election Law changes “under magnifier”

Election Law changes “under magnifier”

Sarajevo, May 18, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Mladen Dragojlovic

Coalition of six NGOs for Free and Fair Elections ”Pod lupom” (“Under magnifier”) organized on Wednesday a conference about the expectations for local elections 2016. The conference was named “What to expect after the changes of the Election Law of BiH?” and took place in BiH Parliamentary Assembly.

Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to BiH, Renzo Daviddi,  welcomed the activities of the Coalition “Pod lupom”.

“The EU is funding this project with aim to contribute to the improved quality of election processes in BiH, in line with international standards and best practices, facilitating active participation of citizens in the advocacy and election monitoring. We encourage all relevant stakeholders to continue working on the improvements of the electoral legislation through a wide range of consultative and inclusive processes”, Daviddi said.

On the conference, two panel discussions were held on the upcoming Local Election in BiH, scheduled for October 2, and the recent changes to the BiH Election Law, their impact on the election administration and reflections by the CSOs, election administration and media on the adopted changes. The result of the first panel of discussion on the recent Election Law changes is the conclusion that work on the improvements of the election legislation should continue in the near future in order to implement other crucial recommendations which were not part of the recent changes.

Member of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Vlado Rogic, shortly explained the changes of this Law which were recently implemented as a result of the work of the Inter-Agency Working Group for the Changes of the Election Legislation. The delegate of the House of Peoples of BiH Parliamentary Assembly, Halid Genjac, said that the decision making process in the Inter-Agency Working Group was a challenge, but the standards in the election process in BiH are still pretty high. Two other panellists, MPs of the BiH Parliament, Barisa Colak and Lazar Prodanovic, agreed that it is necessary to continue the improvements in the polling station committees’ member selection and education, and the faster announcement of election results.

The conclusion of the second panel of discussion on other election legislation changes was that room for the additional improvements still exists, especially in the law on Political Party Financing. Ivana Korajlic from Transparency International BiH offered concrete ideas where the improvements can be made, including the strengthening the role of the CEC in political parties financial reports audits and an increase in sanctions and penalties for possible misbehaviour.

Independent Journalist and Political Analyst, Almir Terzic, emphasized that the recent changes in the Election Law suggested by the Inter-Agency Working Group were not dealing with the crucial problem of the elections in BiH – polling station committees.

“Professionalization of the polling station committees and decrease of the political influence on their work should be imperative of any other legislation changes in the future”, Terzic emphasized.

The Conference was organised under the project “BASE – Building Accountability and Systems in the Elections”, funded by the EU with the amount of EUR 1.5 million and implemented by the Coalition “Pod lupom”. It was attended by more than 200 participants, representatives of the government institutions, local administration, international community, media and civil society organisations.