The National Assembly House hosted a public hearing on the Bill amending the Law on Election of Members of Parliament and the Bill amending and modifying the Law on Local Elections, organized by the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues. The bills were submitted by 103 MPs of the Serbian Progressive Party Parliamentary Group.
Deputy Head of the Serbian Progressive Party Parliamentary Group Dr Vladimir Orlic presented the bills, saying that the most important change they propose is a reduction of the election threshold from 5 to 3%.
“The chief goal of the proposed amendments to the Law on Election of Members of Parliament is to reduce the election threshold to ensure that the will of the people is more adequately reflected in the composition of the National Assembly and that the electoral will, which is not dominant, is politically articulated and represented in the National; Assembly”, said Orlic, stressing that this increases the democracy of the electoral process and of the work of the National Assembly as well.
The Bill defines national minority political parties in terms of their participation in the allocation of MPs’ terms of office without the application of election threshold. In other words, irrespective of whether a political party is registered as a national minority party, in the election process, concretely in the allocation of terms of office, even if it does not meet the threshold, it has the status of national minority political party only if the Republic Electoral Commission establishes that its primary purpose is to represent and advocate the interests of a national minority and protect and improve the rights of its members.
The amendments also concern the allocation of councillors’ terms of office in local self-government units and the Bill amending and modifying the Law on Local Elections defines the deadline for calling an election.
“We are prepared to listen to all adequately substantiated suggestions in order to come to a solution acceptable to the widest political circles”, said Orlic.
Orlic said that the motives for the reduction in election threshold should not be brought into question.
“Potential damages lie exclusively with the party with the dominant election results. We are well aware of that, but we want to promote pluralism and represent the will of the people in the most adequate manner possible”, Orlic said. He denounced the allegations that the reduction of election threshold was not sufficiently discussed in public, stressing that the topic has been in the public eye for some time now and at one time the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended the 3% threshold as a general electoral rule. He also reminded the attending that with the change of election conditions through inter-party dialogue, the ruling coalition has plainly showed its determination to advance the election process.
Following the debate, the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues Djordje Komlenski said that information will be compiled to be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration.
The public hearing was attended by representatives of the Ombudsman, European Union, UK Embassy, OSCE, CRTA, European Movement in Serbia, AP Vojvodina and the Assembly of AP Vojvodina and CeSID, as well as parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties.