ISSN 2330-717X

Observers Start Monitoring Serbian Campaign Expenses


By Bojana Barlovac

As pre-election fever heats up in Serbia, observers from the anti-corruption agency are for the first time monitoring the parties’ expenses on the ground.

Ahead of general and local elections scheduled for May 6, Serbia’s state-run anti-corruption agency is for the first time deploying independent observers to monitor the situation on the ground and record data about party expenses.

The agency has deployed 165 observers who on March 14 started to follow the parties’ activities in the election campaign. “We work strictly incognito. Just watch and record,” an observer told Balkan Insight.

Zoran Stojiljkovic, from the agency, said observers had been trained in monitoring such acitivities as counting billboards and posters and buses rented for rallies.

“They are supposed to record everything and compile reports once a week,” Stojiljkovic told Balkan Insight, adding that the observers are not allowed to talk politicians or media.

Under a new law on financing political activities adopted in June 2011, parties are obliged to submit reports on their finances during campaigns to the agency, which will then review and compare them with the data they have.

By law, Serbian parties are jointly entitled to obtain 0.1 per cent of the national budget expenditure for election purposes, which is 890 million dinars (about 8 million euro).

Twenty per cent of the sum is to be allocated in equal portions to nominators of electoral lists. The remaining 80 per cent goes to the submitters of electoral lists that won seats in proportion to the number of seats that they won.

In the last general and local elections held in 2008, the ruling coalition gathered around Democratic Party spent over 4 million euro in campaign but no mechanism then existed to track the transactions of money used in the campaign.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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