In the build-up to the election campaign for the upcoming parliamentary, provincial and local elections, Zoran Pašalić, the Protector of Citizens, urges all the participants in the election race, representatives of political parties and movements, as well as all the participants in public and political life, to be guided by the principles of democratic debate and not to contribute to partition and antagonisms in the society. We witness, Pašalić warns, civilized, democratic debate and exchange of arguments increasingly giving way to verbal and physical confrontations among participants in public life, who thus promote violence as a legitimate form of political struggle. Bearing in mind that the political struggle is most intense during the election campaigns, I appeal to all political factors to be aware of their responsibilities and uncompromisingly adhere to the principles of functioning of a modern democratic state, as the Republic of Serbia aspires to be.
I take this occasion to reiterate one more time that public authorities, organizing the election process, are required to provide for the conditions specified by Law so that all citizens of the Republic of Serbia can fully exercise their voting rights.
It is necessary to pay close attention to providing necessary conditions for exercising the voting rights of persons with disabilities, the elderly and the sick, who are often partially or completely prevented from participating equally in decision-making and expressing their political will, due to various physical and information-communication barriers. In order to improve the electoral process and make it fully accessible to persons with disabilities, the Protector of Citizens joined the Group for inclusive electoral process and rules consultation, in order to make concrete proposals for improving the electoral process, including the upcoming elections, through collaborative work of the stakeholders.
The Protector of Citizens reminds that it is mandatory to use national minorities’ languages when printing election material in municipalities where national minorities’ languages are in official use, and to have representatives of national minorities included in election management bodies in nationally mixed local self-government units.
As Mr. Pašalić says, it is necessary to provide conditions to administer the elections in the institutions for the enforcement of penal sanctions as proscribed by the Law, so that persons deprived of liberty can exercise their voting rights.
In addition, Pašalić reminds, the citizens of the Republic of Serbia who live outside the country's borders have not always been able to exercise their right to vote, although, through diplomatic and consular missions, they timely submitted requests for entering into the electoral roll that they would vote abroad.
The Institution of the Protector of Citizens will continue to pay close attention to the activities of all bodies involved in the administration of the upcoming elections with a view to protecting citizens’ voting rights.