Parties to appoint more responsible representatives in the SEC

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on parliamentary political parties to ensure that when appointing their representatives to the new State Election Commission (SEC), in accordance with the recently opened procedure, they are those members who will act responsibly to the law and budgetary funds.

Namely, the latest data received by the CCE, under the Law on Free Access to Information, are an indicator that the SEC continues to irrationally squander taxpayers’ money. Although this institution has been in the public spotlight on several occasions due to enormous financial allocations for its members, most of whom are also public officials, the negative practice has been further deepened in this election cycle. Unfortunately, this kind of financial rewarding was not accompanied by the results, as evidenced by the current proceedings before the Prosecutor’s Office due to suspicions of illegal work of the SEC, but also by scandals that continuously accompany this important state institution.

Only in the previous election cycle, lasting less than three months, the SEC paid enormous financial amounts for per diems, allowances and travel expenses to the president, secretary and members in the austerity year. In the lead are two members of the SEC, delegated in front of the DPS, Mersudin Dautovic and Andrija Radman, to whom from 19/7/2020 to 2/11/2020, only in the name of using a private car for official purposes, was paid as much as 5,447 euros, as well as Haris Mekic from the Bosniak Party with 2,541 euros. Besides, during this period, they, like other members, received monthly and special election fees of almost 5,000 euros each, without per diems.

The absolute champion of payments is Mersudin Dautovic, who is a member of the DPS Executive Board, where he earns a monthly salary of EUR 1066. In For travel expenses and the use of a private car for official purposes, Dautovic received an incredible EUR 23,440 during this term of the SEC. For example, only in 2018, he was awarded EUR 10,720 on that basis. From 2017 to 2/11/2020, the SEC has paid, based on fees, per diems, travel and travel expenses, EUR 49 714 to Dautovic, i.e. each participation of Dautovic at the SEC session cost this institution around EUR 355.

In the past few months, the CCE pointed out a number of controversial decisions of the SEC, the most well-known of which are – adoption of Technical Recommendations for holding elections for epidemiological protection of voters whose parts have been revoked by the Constitutional Court, attempt to suspend constitutional and legal rights of infected with the COVID-19 virus to exercise the right to vote, non-transparent and illegal allocation of 70,000 euros for the selection of the most expensive hotel “Hilton”for work and holding sessions in the year of austerity and without conducting legal procedures during the election, assigning the printing of election material to a printing house affiliated with the current president Assembly of Bijelo Polje, Nemsa Omerhodzic from DPS, use of software to check the signatures of voters’ support for the electoral lists of former DPS councilor in Cetinje Vuko Perisic despite the existence of software donated by the OSCE, hiring Perisic and nine other officials from the Parliament who were paid EUR 17,900 in just a few days and whose engagement and processing of personal data of citizens was contrary to the Law, which was determined by a decision of the Agency for Personal Data Protection. All this was preceded by the adoption of the Decision on determining remuneration for work in the SEC, by which members determined a special remuneration in addition to regular monthly and other remuneration during the election process in the amount of two and a half average monthly remuneration.

The issue of legal and justified spending of taxpayers’ money must be one of the imperatives of elementary political responsibility, which gained its additional weight during the economic crisis. The results demonstrated by the SEC members support the thesis that their work was not proportional to the acquired financial privileges. We hope that political parties will take seriously the work of their members, as well as their responsibility for illegal decisions that have further undermined confidence in the election process. Bearing in mind that these days we are witnessing the proclaimed need to revise the human resources potential, we call on political parties to show by example that this is not just political marketing, and to propose non-contaminated candidates for SEC members.

Damir Suljević, Programme associate