Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Law on Political Parties - Merging Serbian Political Scene

By: Miodrag Stosic

Belgrade, Aug 25 ,2009, (Serbia Today) - This year Serbia celebrates 20th anniversary of its pluralistic Democracy and multi-party political system. Law on elections proclaimed at that time, ceased 45 years long single-party system, and was so liberal to enable anyone to get into a political life. Only 100 signatures were needed to register a political party, and it led to a phenomenon called proliferation of Parties.
Also, the majority principle for distribution of votes, that had been used in the beginning, was replaced later by a proportional system. Ever Party passing a census gets into parliament with a number of representatives proportional to a number of votes it achieves in elections. By the time, this kind of political system created a situation in which several bigger parties were dominant. However, their relations were such that no one of them could easily form a stable parliamentary majority. That is why small parties, although of a minor significance independently, became key players in final formation of Governments. Therefore, ruling coalitions are a normal condition of Serbian political life. On one hand, they are one-step ahead in the development of Democracy, but on the other, they are an image of an unstable Government, what can be seen at making important decisions.
A situation became drastic during a few recent years, when there were many contradictions in statements that government officials, from different ruling parties used to give in media. There were disagreements on many important questions. Free riders were also present. For all mentioned reasons, in the beginning of this year, the state started working on a law that would simplify an image of a confusing Serbian political scene. In May, Assembly adopted Law on political organizations, with a minimum majority of 127 representatives.
By this Law, 10 thousand signatures, instead of 100, are needed to register a political party. Also, Law envisions severe penalties for those who try to act politically through an unregistered organization - from 5 to 500 thousand dinars. When national minority parties are concerned, Law is more liberal for them, allowing them to be registered with only 1000 signatures. These parties now can be entirely registered on their national languages.
For the mentioned reasons, a renewed registration of political parties in Serbia is ongoing. Leaders of bigger political parties in Serbia greet adoption of a new law, expressing the faith that they would easily gather 10 thousand signatures. Dragan Marković Palma, president of United Serbia, stated that his party would gather required number of signatures in a record term. Tomislav Nikolić, leader of Serbian Progressive Party, greets the law, but says that census should be even bigger to clean the situation, because by this law, after 6 months, 100 parties will remain, of which 90 percent won’t belong to a serious politics. Žarko Korać, from Liberal Democratic Party, says that this law is non-democratic, because there is no law with such a big census in the whole Europe.
The fact is that the new Law will disable activities of those Parties whose ideas do not have mass character. We should agree with a remark that a political scene in Serbia will become more serious. At least in the sense that there won’t be such parties like Yogi Flyers Party, or Rock ’n’ Roll Party in a National Register of Associations.

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