The country's genuine willingness to reform its electoral system in an inclusive manner is of crucial importance for the reform process. This was concluded during the conference organised within the EU-funded project “Let fair elections become a habit! - Building trust in the integrity of the electoral process in Montenegro,” implemented by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) and co-financed by the Ministry for Public Administration.
The EU ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, reminded that in its latest report on Montenegro, the European Commission noted that the level of trust in the electoral framework and conduct of elections remains low.
“A crucial prerequisite to make concrete progress in this area is the country's genuine willingness to reform its electoral system in an inclusive manner and in line with the international and European standards. In the absence of such a will, any external financial and technical support would bring little benefit to the reform process,” said Orav.
He emphasised that the reform of the electoral legal framework needs to go hand in hand with the development of improved practices of more transparent oversight institutions, which need to develop capacities and gain public trust and support.
“In this context, we expect the State Election Commission to assume a proactive attitude in exercising its role in an effective manner, and ensure that it has sufficient administrative and expert capacity to carry out its mandate in line with the Law. We also have high expectations from the Anti-Corruption Agency regarding its oversight competencies in the area of political party financing,” he said.
The President of the CeMI Governing Board, Zlatko Vujovic, recalled the results of the public opinion poll, which confirmed that the citizens' trust in the election process is low.
“About 40% of citizens have trust in the electoral process, which is quite low, although it is better than a year earlier, when it was 35.4%. Also, regarding the question of whether the parliamentary elections in 2016 were fair and free, only 40.9% of citizens said yes. This is all data which causes concern, and seeks a reaction from the society,” Vujovic pointed out.
The President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Ivan Brajovic, said that the work on improving the election environment is a continuous process, stating that all previous elections were held in an improved ambience, compared to the previous election cycle.
“When you hear some discussions today, it seems that we have an electoral legislation that is a relic of a distant past, and for which all of the participants in the election and all international organisations comment and conclude that it is catastrophic. It's not like that at all,” said Brajovic.
He reiterated his invitation to the opposition parties to participate in the work of the parliament’s committee for electoral reform.
The project “Let fair elections become a habit! - Building trust in the integrity of the electoral process in Montenegro” is supported by the European Union through the European Commission, and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro.