Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: In April the country held presidential elections. Aleksandar Vucic, chairman of the SNS, won over 55 percent of the vote in the first round. The final report of the limited election observation mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) concluded that the election provided voters with a genuine choice of contestants who were able to campaign freely. The campaign, however, was dominated by then prime minister Aleksandar Vucic, who benefited from the effectively blurred distinction between campaign and official activities. Unbalanced media coverage and credible allegations of pressure on voters and employees of state-affiliated structures and a misuse of administrative resources tilted the playing field. Regulatory and oversight mechanisms were not effectively used to safeguard the fairness of competition. While the legal framework was conducive to the conduct of democratic elections, it did not sufficiently cover all fundamental aspects of the process, with certain areas left under-regulated or poorly regulated. Long-standing OSCE/ODIHR recommendations calling for a comprehensive review of the legislation to address existing shortcomings had not been implemented by year’s end.
The Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability observation mission “Citizens on Watch” noted the electoral campaign for the presidential elections was short and intensive, with unequal media access for the candidates.
Political Parties and Political Participation: The country had a broad range of political parties from which voters could choose. More than 30 political parties are represented in the National Assembly, offering voters an array of political ideologies.
Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws limit participation of women and /or members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate. The law states that for municipal and parliamentary elections, one in three candidates must be a member of the sex least represented on the list.