Tuesday, 21 July 2015 00:00

National Round Table held in Serbia

Round Table “Reform of Political and Electoral System in Serbia” was organised by the Faculty of Political Science on the 10th of July 2015, at the premises of the Faculty. The purpose of the event was to present the first findings of the research project “Balkan Comparative Electoral Study: Impact of Personal Vote on Internal Party Relations” supported by the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans (RRPP). Additional aim of the event was to contribute to the debate on the reform of political system in Serbia. The participants were members of academic community (Faculty of Political Science, Faculty of Philosophy and Faculty of Legal and Business Studies), representatives of civil society (OSCE, CeSID, Open Society Foundation, PERFORM, CDDRI and Center for Democracy) and representatives of political institutions (Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Veroljub Arsić and President of the Parliamentary Committee for Culture and Information Vesna Marjanović). The round table consisted of two panels: the first entitled “Reform of the electoral system” and the second, “Political parties between government and voters”.

The first panel offered proposals for improvement of constitutional and legal regulations that refer to elections, with special regard to relations between voters and MPs. The two panellists, Prof Dr Milan Jovanovic and Prof Dr Slavisa Orlovic opened the discussion by presenting the main findings of a study “How to Make Intra-Party Democracy Possible? Institutional Factors and Internal Dynamics of Intra-Party Relations”. The panellists argued that current political and electoral system in Serbia have several weaknesses. First, parliament is insufficiently representative of the whole population. Most of the MPs come either from Belgrade or Novi Sad, which leaves citizens of other Serbian regions underrepresented. Second, due to closed electoral lists, MPs are more accountable to their party leadership than to the voters. Third, current electoral system gives incentives for higher fragmentation of political parties and institutions.

In the second panel, Prof Dr Zoran Stojiljkovic focused on the opportunities citizens have to influence decision-making processes. His main argument was that the lack of intra-party democracy reflects on the way public institutions function.
In addition to the three panellists, participants taking part in the discussion offered proposals for the improvement of electoral system including: direct voting for candidates, higher electoral threshold for coalitions, increasing the number of electoral districts. The discussion was also led around the need for constitutional changes and a relationship between parliament and independent bodies such as the Ombudsperson and a Commissioner for Information of Public Importance.