July 23, 2020 - CDT President Milica Kovacevic stated that one of the fundamental democratic principles is that election rules must be known to everyone in advance.
The Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) called on the National Coordination Body for Infectious Diseases (NCT) and the State Election Commission (SEC) to issue instructions and recommendations for the safe conduct of elections as a matter of urgency.
"Regardless of whether the parliamentary elections will be held on August 30, or postponed until a more favorable moment, we need those rules and instructions," Kovacevic said.
She believes that whatever date is in sight, the election process will have to be held in a pandemic.
"And the sooner we become aware of all the steps, the greater the chances that these elections will be healthier, and therefore freer," said Kovacevic.
She said that the election process is mostly underway and that its participants, observers, and citizens are still waiting for answers to some of the fundamental questions.
"It's been a month since the announcement of the election, and it is inadmissible that the rules are not known yet. In this situation, we must act faster and more efficiently, in order to create preconditions for the safe conduct of all stages of the election process in time, "said Kovacevic.
She said that political parties are already collecting signatures and conducting a field campaign without appropriate instructions, which, she believes, is inadmissible at this stage of the election process.
Kovacevic said that in a situation where mass gatherings are banned, parties have not been offered alternative solutions and ways to inform the public about their policies and candidates safely.
"By failing and delaying the regulation of these issues, the ruling parties are being given an illegal advantage since political rallies are banned. The "functionary" campaign runs smoothly through various pseudo-events, openings, launches, and cutting ribbons," Kovacevic said.
As she recalls, for the elections to be held during a epidemic, it is necessary to prepare thousands of polling boards, authorize representatives of the parties, and observers, who must be informed about the conditions in which the elections will be held.
Kovacevic believes that the most important thing for the elections is to prepare the public well.
"The state is obliged to create conditions so that everyone feels safe enough in exercising the right to vote and that they do not have to compromise their health in the name of exercising the right to vote." The public must be informed in time, that is, get clear announcements on how the election day will take place, "said Kovacevic.
According to her, this mainly refers to those who will be in quarantine, self-isolation, or COVID-19 positive on August 30.
"Also, informed citizens will feel safer and go to the polls in greater numbers, because the goal of any democratic society must be a greater turnout of citizens in the elections," Kovacevic concluded.
She recalled that the CDT had previously addressed the NKT with an initiative to start an inclusive and consultative process of regulating the rules for the safe conduct of elections. A session of the NKT working group on the topic was held on July 8.
Kovacevic added that the Institute for Public Health submitted the first working version of the recommendations to the SEC, the Agency for Prevention of Corruption, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dealing with the elections, inviting them to give comments and suggestions, which NGOs did immediately.
As she stated, an extended session of the Collegium of the Assembly was held on July 15, to include an opportunity for representatives of parliamentary clubs to create recommendations.
Kovacevic said that the parties involved in the boycott of the parliament also gave their contribution, with their public suggestions.
Ivanović: SEC not considering the elections not being held within the set deadline, rules on Friday
The experiences of countries where elections have been held despite the coronavirus epidemic show that they can be conducted with respect for appropriate measures, the President of the State Election Commission, Aleksa Ivanović, stated yesterday.
He told Montenegrin Television that specific recommendations for actions during election day have not been specified yet, but that he expects that part to be completed on Friday, after a meeting with the National Coordination Body and the Institute of Public Health.
Ivanovic stated that the State Election Commission is not thinking about the possibility of the elections not being held within the set deadline, but that it is also difficult to predict what will happen in the coming period.
Source: Vijesti, MINA