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League of Experts - LEX
Belgrade, Topličin venac 11,
Serbia and Montenegro

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Srpski English

Dr Vladimir Goati


The genealogical tree of the institution of elections has deep and ramified roots. The precise rules were applied for the first time to the election of representatives in ecclesiastical councils (the right to vote and to stand for election, the mode of voting and counting the votes, etc.) in some European countries in the early 12th century. Similar rules were also used in the election of representatives in the assemblies of the three estates. However, despite the fact that the institution of elections is very old, their generalization as the method of participation of the citizens of Western Europe and the United States in the constitution of a political community is the achievement of the 19th century. "In the beginning - writes Maurice Duverger - governments formed part of the natural order. They were not chosen just as the climate, country, disease and the like are not chosen" (Duverger, 1959, p. 77).

Elections and Democracy

Although etymologically defined as government by the people, democracy is, in practice, government by chosen representatives in the name of the people. Since the people cannot govern directly - due to which one can speak about direct democracy as a global system only as an unattainable ideal - elections represent the instrument of the only possible, representative democracy. The genesis of elections as "... the totality of procedures, legal and material acts, whose basic aim is to determine the governing by the governed" (Cotteret et Emeri, 1970, p. 11), is closely linked to the development of parliamentarism. The participation of the citizens of Western Europe and the United States in a parliamentary election was restricted in various ways until the mid-19th century, when the right of suffrage began to widen. At the same time, this right experienced a fast "geographical expansion" to other countries of the world, which can be illustrated by the following diachronic comparison. In the early 20th century, citizens had the right to vote only in 25 countries. However, this right was largely restricted, because it was denied to women, racial minorities and the poorest (Karatnynysky, 2000, p. 187). But, already in the first decades of the 20th century, this right gradually became universal (censuses were abolished) and obtained the following attributes: equality (the principle of one-person one-vote), secrecy and directness of voting, as well as the compulsory participation of a greater number of candidates than that to be elected and put forward by autonomous political parties. The voting right so understood has become, as reasoned by Vladimir Simic, "... the cornerstone of democracy" (Simic, 1938, p. 15). With the irrepressible widening of the voting right, the number of countries in which power was assumed by means of elections increased as well. At the end of 1999 - according to the data provided by Freedom House - in 120 countries (out of a total of 192), which accounted for 58.2 per cent of the world population, power was assumed by winning an election.

In a democratic system, elections perform a number of indispensable functions. First of all, at elections, citizens choose from among different political parties (candidates), thus changing their government at intervals and by peaceful means, which is one of the greatest democratic achievements. However, elections are not only the method of filling political offices, but also of determining in advance (which is as important) that these offices "... will be vacant at frequent intervals, without disorders linked to revenge or inconvenience caused by a revolution (Key, 1967, p. 5). Second, elections should not be regarded as a one-time influence of citizens on power holders, but as a lasting dialogue and "exchange of influences" between citizens and government, occurring also in the period between elections. This was rightfully noted by Carl Friedrich in his formulation of the law of "anticipated reactions" according to which the politician in power adjusts his conduct not only to past preferences of voters but also to future ones (Friedrich, 1937, p. 203). From this perspective, the well-known statement by Jean Jacques Rousseu that British citizens are sovereign only at the moment "when they elect members of Parliament", because the immanent tendency of politicians to be re-elected induces them after elections to take the commitments of citizens into account - sounds one-sided.

Third, at elections citizens express their confidence and support which, enables the government to mobilize the social energy to the greatest possible degree. "Confidence... vests the government with authority to act and instills in it a certain ability to take initiative on a much broader and subtler basis than that which would only be legal. Thanks to confidence placed in it, a legitimate government exercises the discretionary and motive power, which not only an illegitimate government does not have, but also a truly legal one (Kota, 1984, p. 4). By opting for one political party and its programme at an election, the citizen also gives support to certain persons who enjoy his confidence. This is essential for the functioning of democracy because "showing respect for a person or at least something associated with him is necessary for the human mind to regard one government as legitimate. In case of its total absence, the government will be despised and devoid of dignity" (Hennis, 1984, p. 28).

Fourth, elections enable citizens to have the power to restrain or even change the ruling elite, which Talcott Parsons expresses with the lapidary statement: "Voting means exercising power" (Parsons, 1969, p. 108). By exercising power through the election of his representatives, an individual feels like an important participant in the constitution of his government. Fifth, elections strengthen the legitimacy of a political community, because citizens, by taking part in the election process, accept the institutions, procedures and symbols of that community. In fact, elections reinforce one's feeling of devotion to the political community, thus contributing to its integration (Nordlinger, 1968, p. 124). Conversely, the rejection of major segments of the population to take part in elections (boycotting) points to the lack of the basic consensus in that political community. Sixth, elections indirectly contribute to the settlement of political conflicts, because citizens not only make a choice between different interests, but also choose their representatives who may - through a mutual dialogue and compromises - alleviate different interests. At elections, citizens do not decide on the urgent political issues, but elect the one who will do that. All things considered, elections are a vital prerequisite for the legitimacy of power holders. In modern times, in which democracy is the "only game in the city", the governments that have not assumed power thanks to their victory at elections are regarded as usurpatory, so that their cooperation with other countries and international organizations is restricted.

Truly, elections are the necessary yet insufficient precondition for the legitimacy of a political system, which as to satisfy economic and social needs of its citizens at an acceptable level over a longer period. The case of Federal Republic of Germany in the post-World War II period shows the importance of the economic results and efficiency for the preservation of a political system (Laswell, 1971, p. 85). Parallel to its fascinating economic revival (the so-called German economic miracle), the number of people voting for the political parties showing affinity to the former Nazi regime kept decreasing at the successive parliamentary elections.

The Quality of Elections

So far, we have talked about elections as the procedure by which a political party (or parties) is entrusted with the exercise of power for a specified period, paying no greater attention to the specifics of that procedure, which Michael Bratton calls "the quality of elections" (Bratton, 1998, p. 2). It is exactly the quality of elections that makes the election contest differ essentially from country to country. In some countries, elections are confined to voting with the well-known outcome, while in others this is an equitable fight for the support of voters with the uncertain outcome. The use of the same term for essentially different political procedures is the result of high prestige of the institution of elections, so that even the leaders of authoritarian or totalitarian regimes - by staging elections with the results known in advance - try to impose an impression on the domestic and (more frequently) international public that their power is based on the will of citizens. In manipulative practices relating to elections, one can identify one common trait despite countless variations: they eliminate uncertainty, which is the immanent characteristic of democratic elections, and ensure the predetermined (desirable) results. By holding such elections, the ruling party (or parties) tries to impede or even "close" access to power to the opposition parties, whereby it actually rejects the basic democratic postulate that, by definition, the locus of power is "empty space". There is no need to deal with the institutional apparatus in more detail. It is important to note that this apparatus prevents the government from seizing power so as to pursue its own ends, from incorporating it into itself (Lefort, 1988, p. 19).

In fixed elections, an important role is played not only by direct participants in the election process (political parties, candidates), but also by the government apparatus which, instead of providing equal terms for all participants in the election contest, gives priority to some of them. It is not rare that - under the influence of the ruling party (or parties) - the legislator also takes part in manipulative practices by adopting biased election norms, thus making it easier for a certain political party to win an election. In the second half of the 20th century, the concept of "free and fair elections" crystallized itself in the doctrine and practice of democracy as a reaction to systematic efforts to discredit the institution of elections, becoming a precondition for admission of countries to many international organizations. The word "free" implies that citizens may choose any option offered to them at an election without coercion, while the word "fair" designates that political parties enjoy equal status in the election contest.

Naturally, both dimensions of the adopted definition of democratic elections, freedom and equality, are the ideals that cannot be attained in full. This was expressed by one author in the following way: "There is no country in which the election contest takes place on an absolutely flat ground" (Markoff, 1996, p. 109). For the very reason that all elections have a dose of imperfection, they must always be, "from an ideal perspective", the subject-matter of dispute and criticism. This imperfection, which is also observed in stable democracies, is often used by authoritarian regimes in their political propaqanda to justify serious voting frauds. Moreover, it blurs a difference between serious voting irregularities by which the will of citizens is intentionally distorted and minor omission, which are insignificant for election results. So, for example, in stable democratic countries the registers of voters are never updated to the end due, above all, to a high territorial mobility of the population. However, the consequences of this omission are insignificant and distributed almost evenly among all political parties. On the other hand, the massive invalidation or fixing of election results, or the addition of hundreds of thousands of votes - the cases we know very well from our experience with previous elections in Serbia - have a significant, if not decisive influence on election results.

The question that imposes itself is whether one can make a distinction between minor and unintentional omissions in the election process, and a serious and intentional violation of the rights of participants in this process, including equal treatment, so as to produce the desirable results at any cost. In our opinion, such a distinction can be made if the dimensions (notions) of freedom and equality are defined as precisely as possible. Such an approach was taken by Jorgen Elklit and Palle Svensson (Elklit and Svensson, 1997, p. 37) who prepared an extensive list of the relevant criteria. They are presented in continuation in a slightly abbreviated form. They classified the criteria for the dimension "free" (elections) into three groups according to the segment of the election period, i.e. before elections, on the election day and after elections. The criteria from the first group (before elections) are the freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom from fear associated with elections and an election campaign, participation in elections without hindrance and universal suffrage on terms of equality. The criterion from the second group (on the election day) is the possibility of taking part in voting, while that from the third group (after elections) is whether there are legal grounds for lodging a complaint.

Elklit and Svensson also cited a number of criteria for the dimension "free" (elections), relating to the specified periods within the election process. The list of pre-election criteria includes as follows: a transparent election process; election laws giving no preference to any political party; entering one's name in the register of voters; setting up an independent and impartial polling committee; impartial treatment of candidates by police, armed forces and courts; equal opportunities for political parties and independent candidates to stand for election; impartial programmes of voters' education; regulated election campaign; equal access to public media; equitable distribution of public funds among political parties and prevention of misuse of government facilities. The criteria applicable to the election day include: the provision of free access to the polling places to political parties, domestic and foreign poll watchers and media; secrecy of voting; secrecy of voting; appropriate ballot papers and ballot boxes; impartial assistance to voters; adequate vote-counting procedure; appropriate treatment of invalid ballot papers; adequate preventive measures during the transport of election material and impartial protection of polling places. The after-election criteria include: official and prompt announcement of election results, impartial handling of all complaints relating to elections; impartial reporting on elections in the media and recognition of election results by all participants in the election process.

The Situation in Our Country

During the period 1990-2000, elections for the republican parliament were held five times in Serbia (in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1997 and 2000) and four times in Montenegro (1990, 1992, 1996, 1998). The elections of deputies to the Federal Assembly were held four times (in May 1992 and in December 1992, 1996 and 2000). At all these elections, the ruling parties in Serbia and Montenegro (until the elections in May 1998) had a dominant position in the economic, institutional and media sphere. Nevertheless, the statement on the domination of the ruling Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) in official media at all republican elections in Serbia is not valid for the last elections, which were held in December 2000, because the parties within the "red and black" coalition parties (SPS - Yugoslav Left - Serbian Radical Party) were inferior in the official media in relation to the Serbian Democratic Opposition (DOS). At those elections, the mentioned coalition still retained its supremacy over DOS in the economic and institutional sphere "by intertia", so that these elections cannot be regarded as free and equitable either.

Constant superiority of the ruling parties in the two republics over the opposition with respect to economic resources resulted from the fact that in the Yugoslav economic system, which is dominated by "social" or, in real fact, state ownership, these political parties performed the function of the "general manager" of such property, which enabled them to use government facilities for their own needs. In the institutional sphere, the ruling parties secured a dominant position over the opposition thanks, inter alia, to the possibility of unilateral decision-making, with reliance on the "voting machine" in the two republican parliaments and federal parliament about "election formulae", minimum vote requirement, number of electoral districts and so on. In this regard, we shall give only a few typical examples. The election law applied to the first multi-party elections in Serbia, in 1990, was passed by the single-party assembly constituted in 1989, without consultation with the opposition parties. The election law applied to the first elections for the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), held in May 1992 ("foundation elections"), was adopted by agreement of the ruling parties in the two republics, SPS and DPS (Socialist Democratic Party), again without the opposition.

The situation changed to a degree before the elections in December 1992, because SPS and DPS, under the pressure of mass protests organized by DEPOS in the middle of 1992, were forced to agree on the federal and republican election laws and laws on electoral districts with the opposition parties at round tables. But, at the beginning of 1993 already, SPS resorted to an "institutional dictate" once again. By agreement with the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), it suddenly changed the republican law on the election of deputies to the Chamber of the Republics of the Federal Assembly at the constituent session of the republican parliament (on 28 January, 1993). This change with a retroactive effect (since elections were held in December 1992) enabled the majority in the National Assembly of Serbia, comprised of SPS and SRS, to choose only their representatives for the Federal Chamber. In July 1997, with reliance on the majority in the National Assembly of Serbia and despite the protest of the opposition, SPS increased the number of electoral districts from 9 to 29 for the republican elections scheduled for September that same year. The unilateral change of the "election map" on the eve of the September elections was one of the reasons for their boycotting by twelve opposition parties, including the Democratic Party (DS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) - which won the support of one-sixth of the voters at the previous republican elections (1993).

Finally, with the support of its coalition partners, SRS and JUL, SPS continued with its practice to impose election regulations at elections in December 2000. Two months before these elections (on 9 October, 2000), the National Assembly of Serbia passed the Law on the Election of Deputies not only without consultation with the opposition parties, but also without any announcement. Moreover, under this law, Serbia became one electoral district (as opposed to 29 electoral districts at elections in 1997). In this way, the minimum vote requirement of 5 per cent - which was also set forth in the election law of 1997 - obtained an essentially different meaning. In contrast to the law of 1997, when small and just formed parties, as well as regional and ethnic political parties could win a parliamentary election in some of 29 electoral districts, at the December elections, when Serbia was one electoral district, the minimum vote requirement of 5 per cent proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. The suddenly passed Law on the Election of Deputies has some other deficiencies, too. Two of them are especially significant although it should be noted that they already existed in the previous laws. The first deficiency is that the voters and political parties could have only partial insight into the register of voters and the other is that the permanent members of the Republican Polling Committee became superior to the members appointed by political parties not only in numbers, but also with respect to competences.

Until a split in DPS (1997), the ruling party in Montenegro used also to impose its solutions, those being the most convenient for it, whereby it relied on its "voting machine" in the republican parliament. This was especially evident at the republican elections in 1996 when the Republican Assembly, despite the protest of the opposition, brought a decision about the division of Montenegro into 14 electoral districts (as contrasted to the election of 1992 when the whole republic was one electoral district). A radical change in this republic took place at the elections in May 1988, when the most important laws regulating the election process were adopted in full agreement of all parliamentary parties. The usurpation of the right by the ruling parties in the two Yugoslav republics to decide arbitrarily about electoral institutions (rules, procedures, mechanisms) enabled them to gain a clear advantage over their opponents, because political institutions were not neutral in relation to the interests of various actors. Instead, they enable some of them to pursue their interests, while at the same time restraining others. Thus, the statement that institutions in the political process have distributive effects is correct (Przeworski, 1991, p. 81; Schattschneider, 1960, p. 72).

As far as the media are concerned, SPS (alone or in coalition) had a clear superiority over the opposition parties in Serbia at all republican and federal elections held during the observed ten-year period except for the mentioned republican elections in 2000. In Montenegro, the ruling DPS was superior over the opposition in the official media from 1990 to the elections in May 1998. A radical change occurred at the May elections, because the status of political parties was in large measure equalized. In view of the fact that, as we have already noted, political parties also achieved equal status in the institutional sphere, the elections for the Montenegrin Parliament held in May 1998 can be regarded as the first free and fair elections in the territory of the FRY.

The Violation of Election Regulations

In addition to the unequal status of political parties in the economic, institutional and media sphere, which had a great influence on the results of elections taking place in the FRY from 1990 to 2000 (with the above mentioned exceptions), the violation of election regulations (frauds) "directed" by the ruling parties had a significant (sometimes - decisive) influence on the election results. This was observed especially at the elections in Serbia, regardless of whether it was the question of parliamentary or presidential elections. During the mentioned period (1990-2000), one could observe an extremely wide range of offences in Serbia, which is beyond compare with any other post-communist country of South-Eastern Europe. As for those offences, mention should be made of the following: falsifying the registers of voters and records from the polling places; fixing of election results by polling committees; arbitrary invalidation of election results by courts; "addition" of the number of voters so as to secure the victory of a certain candidate and (or) meet the legal requirements for the validity of elections; massive double voting; "voting" by persons who are permanently absent or died (zombie" voters); pressure on the employed to vote for certain parties and candidates; depositing of a greater number of already marked ballot papers in ballot boxes, etc.

Most of these offences could be committed quite easily because the ruling parties were arbitrarily decreasing or increasing the electorate in the republic through the "election administration" and government apparatus. Thus, the number of voters at the successive republican elections in Serbia fluctuated to an inexplicably great extent, which is best illustrated by the following data: 1990 - 7,044,797; 1992 - 6,774,995; 1993 - 7,010,389; 1997 - 7,210,386 and 2000 - 6,508,856. The assumption that a sharp decline of the Serbian electorate in 2000, as compared to 1997, was the result of "write-off" of voters with habitual residence in Kosovo and Metohija (since this province is factually under the UN protectorate) is unsustainable, because in that case the number of voters would be much lower (by about one million). Therefore, it is probably more likely that until the republican elections in 2000, the ruling regime in Serbia disposed of more than half a million "fictitious voters" who could be used as needed. This "excess" of voters disappeared in 2000 because the ancien régime lost control over the "election administration" and government apparatus after the political turnabout on 5 October. In that period, the electorate in Montenegro was much more stable, which can be illustrated by the following data: 1990 - 402,905; 1992 - 429,047; 1996 - 448,502 and 1998 - 457,663. In addition, under the Montenegrin election law, which was adopted in 1998, a single, computerized register of voters was established and made accessible to all political parties and citizens, thus preventing any individual to be entered in the register of voters more than once and multiple voting.

Most of the above mentioned election offences were not occasional. They were "global" in character just because the bodies of "election administration" and government apparatus took part directly or indirectly in them. In order to use the already marked ballot papers on such a large scale - as was the case with the Serbian local elections in 1996 - it is first necessary to obtain blank ballot papers from the "election administration" which, as stipulated by law, organizes their printing and distribution. The participation of the government apparatus in fixing the results of the 1996 local elections is also evidenced by the fact that courts were also used for fixing election results and the judiciary did not react to charges against evident offenders (for more detail see: Vodinelic-Rakic et al., 1997). The big voting fraud, staged by the Serbian regime in 1996, caused mass protests of citizens and the international public, so that the regime was forced to recognize the victory of the opposition in forty or so municipalities and cities in Serbia.

Apart from an attempt to fix local elections in 1996, the following offences distinguish themselves because of their proportions and ruthlessness - fixing the results of presidential elections in Serbia (December 1997) and Yugoslavia (September 2000). In the former case, hundreds of thousands of Albanian votes from Kosovo and Metohija were added to the votes for SPS candidate Milan Milutinovic so as to enable his triumph. According to poll watchers, many polling places where Milutinovic "won" the absolute support of voters were not opened at all (Goati, 1999, pp. 164-166). In the latter case, SPS tried to fix the results of the elections for the President of the FRY (24 September, 2000), relying on the Federal Polling Committee and the Federal Constitutional Court. Although the data gathered at the polling places showed on 25 September already that DOS candidate Vojislav Koštunica defeated SPS candidate Slobodan Miloševic in the first round, the Polling Committee or, to be more precise, its permanent members tried until 5 October to prevent or, at least, mitigate Miloševic's defeat. In that interval, the Federal Polling Committee did not perform its task impartially as specified by law, but acted as the longa manus of the ruling regime, committing a great number of flagrant violations of election regulations. The most serious ones include as follows: prevention of the Polling Committee members, representing the political parties which have submitted their lists of candidates, to take part in the work of this Committee - from the closing of the polling places to the announcement of the final results; processing of voting material from the polling places in Kosovo and Metohija, although it arrived in the electoral districts of Prokuplje and Vranje after the expiry of the prescribed time-limit, and closing of the polling places in Kosovo and Metohija at 4 p.m. and not at 8 p.m. as prescribed. Moreover, the permanent members of the Polling Committee fixed the results of the presidential election by announcing in their Decision (Službeni list SRJ of 29 September, 2000) that DOS candidate Vojislav Koštunica received 2,474,392 votes or 49.9 per cent of the total number of those who actually voted. On the basis of such data, the Polling Committee concluded that Koštunica did not meet the requirement (50 per cent plus one vote) and that a runoff election would be held on 8 October, 2000. While fixing the election results, the Federal Polling Committee - which evidently acted in great haste - made a serious factual error. Namely, in the Decision it was stated that there were 5,053,428 of those who actually voted but the number of used ballot papers was 5,053,090! Charges against the members of the Federal Polling Committee for their unconscientious work were submitted on 5 October, 2000 already, while the First Municipal Public Prosecutor's Office in Belgrade indicted some members of the Polling Committee for the abuse of authority.

But, let us return to the dispute over the results of the presidential election. DOS lodged an objection to the Decision of the Federal Polling Committee relating to a runoff election, pointing to the unlawful work of the Committee. Ass could be expected, the latter refuted such an allegation. On 4 October, to the complaint lodged by DOS and its presidential candidate, the Federal Constitutional Court brought a decision that the first round of the presidential election should be repeated. This actually meant a new presidential election. Like the Federal Polling Committee, the Federal Constitutional Court also tried to save Miloševic from losing the election. After mass protests, which culminated on 5 October and brought about the implosion of the regime, the Federal Constitutional Court changed its decision and recognized Koštunica's victory.

It is interesting to note that the described three voting frauds by the former Serbian regime were organized in the second half of the period under observation and that their perpetrators left much more visible traces than was the case with the elections in the early 1990s. This is one of the specific features of Serbia in relation to other post-communist countries of South-Eastern Europe in which, as noted by an expert, manipulative election practices have become increasingly subtler from 1990 onwards (Carothers, 1997, p. 22).

Directions of Changes

The lack of adequate election regulations (both in terms of procedure and substance), as well as a "chronic" violation of those regulations by the ruling party (or parties) were the basic reasons why the elections at the federal level and in Serbia were never free and fair in the past. The lack of an adequate regulatory basis can be overcome by the enactment of new laws (the election law, law on electoral districts and the like), which will observe the principles of freedom and equality of participants in the electoral process to the greatest possible extent. Instead of the hitherto unilateral imposition of solutions by the ruling party (parties), it will be necessary to ensure the participation and (possibly) consensus of all relevant political parties, as was done in the majority of post-communist countries of South-Eastern Europe before the first multi-party elections in 1990. Considering the mentioned distributive effects of the election law, it will be necessary, in adopting these laws, to work out a compromise, so that not one party can expect to realize its interests to a maximum. This refers especially to the party (or parties) in power. In Serbia, this is the DOS coalition, which should, despite its current advantages, provide for such solutions with respect to elections as it will be able to "bear" when it finds itself in the opposition.

In addition, new election regulations should revise some wrong solutions and (or) eliminate serious deficiencies. In further text, mention will be made of the most significant ones. The first deficiency consists in the fact that in our country, at the beginning of 2001, there are still different "election formulae" at different levels of political organization. Namely, the principle of proportional representation is applied at the federal and republican levels, two-round majoritarian principle - at the provincial level and the first-past-the post system the - at the local level. This variety of election principles prevents average voters - of whom 40 per cent has not completed elementary school, while about one-half of this percent is illiterate or functionally illiterate - to understand the relationship between voting and representation. Therefore, provision should be made for the universal application of the proportional formula for the reasons we have already dealt with elsewhere (Goati, 1999, pp. 73-75). The adoption of a single voting principle would enable the codification of the election matter, which is now regulated by a greater number of laws and regulations.

Second, the minimum vote requirement of 5 per cent, set in the current republican election law, under which Serbia is one electoral district, has a prohibitive effect on the representation of small political parties and parties of the national minorities, especially the Hungarian and Muslim (Bosniac) ones. Thus, it should be set at 2 per cent, which is below the share of these two national minorities in Serbia's population (Hungarians - 3.5 per cent, Muslims - 2.5 per cent). The alternative is to adopt "affirmative action", thus enabling the political parties of national minorities to have their representatives in parliament under special (easier) terms. Third, bearing in mind the negative experience thus far, it is necessary to implement a set of measures with a view to preventing or, at least, aggravating the fixing of election results as much as possible. In fact, the risk to be faced by potential offenders should be increased to such an extent that the "cost" of such a strategy (involving money, time, energy and the risks of being caught) will exceed the possible "election benefit" (Goati, 1999, p. 24). The measures of deterrence of potential offenders include, above all, the establishment of a single, computerized register of voters at the republican level and efficient judicial protection of the voting right. These measures should certainly be supplemented by two solutions contained in last year's republican election law: ensuring the voter's signature while receiving a ballot paper and "identification spray", which prevents the same person from voting more than once. Finally, potential offenders would also be discouraged should the presence of domestic and foreign poll watchers be guaranteed. Fourth, bearing in mind the striking inequality of political parties in the media, which accompanied all previous elections like a shadow, new regulations should both affirm and provide for an efficient judicial protection of the principle of equal access to public media by all political parties that participate in the election contest.

Fifth, under the current federal and republican laws, the polling committees are ad hoc bodies whose activities are linked to specified elections. In view of the need to keep the registers of voters up to date (due to a change of residence, young generations that acquired the right to vote, deaths, etc.), it would be useful to anticipate that polling committees (or their administrative division) should perform this job permanently and professionally. This would be a step forward in the institutionalization of elections, eliminating or, at least, alleviating continuing disputes over the number of citizens in Serbia with the right to vote.

It should be noted in conclusion that in 1998, on the basis of similar conclusions on the deficiencies of the current election legislation and bearing in mind comparative analyses and specific experiences with elections in Serbia, the CESID expert team (Marijana Pajvancic, Slobodan Vucetic, Zorica Radovic, Snježana Milivojevic, Slobodanka Nedovic and Vladimir Goati) proposed the models of three laws: on the election of deputies, on political parties and on the financing of political parties, which were published in a special booklet (Model Law on the Election of Deputies and Councillors, Model Law on Political Parties, Model Law on the Financing of Political Parties, CESID, Belgrade, 1999). The proposed models can facilitate the work on democratic election legislation to a significant extent.


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