The Center for Democratic Transition calls on the president, vice presidents and other members of the Government, as well as directors of state-owned enterprises, to immediately suspend all public activities that can be seen as part of the official campaign until the election day,
Also, we call on the mayor of the Capital City, the mayor of the Old Royal Capital and the presidents of the remaining municipalities in Montenegro to behave in a similar way and cancel any planned visits of state officials to their respective local administrations, as well as all promotional activities in municipalities that can be considered an official campaign.
If state officials accept our proposal, it would greatly contribute to changing the political culture in Montenegro, increasing citizens’ trust in the electoral process, introducing respect for important international electoral standards and taking an important step towards creating a more favorable environment for reforming the electoral legislation, which is anticipated after the parliamentary elections.
A few days ago, the electoral lists committed themselves to uphold key democratic principles and rules by signing the Code for a Fair and Democratic Election Campaign with the CDT. We believe that, by accepting our appeal, state institutions could also “join” the Code in their own way and make their important contribution to breaking with previous negative practices.
While recognizing that important state obligations must be fulfilled even in the period leading up to the elections, the CDT acknowledges that officials’ activities are often exploited to gain an institutional advantage. Two test questions can be used to determine which activities are necessary and which are “promotional”. First, whether the activity is something that cannot be done without a state official, that is, whether an important opportunity for the development of the state will be missed due to their absence. And secondly, whether this activity could be carried out without public exposure and/or the presence of a state official.
We firmly believe that a significant portion of officials’ activities during the campaign for decades would not pass this test. That is why we call for a social consensus to eliminate such abuses and deviations in our election process and create an atmosphere that contributes to fair campaigns and all citizens’ acceptance of election results.
The task of every democratic society is to clearly distinguish between party and state activities, governed by legal norms, ensuring that parties do not appropriate state funds, projects and activities as their own. As this is not yet the case in our country, we believe that with this type of voluntary action, we can take an important step forward.
That is why we, once again, call on state-owned enterprises, institutions and officials at all levels to cancel all planned activities that are not necessary for elementary functioning until the elections are concluded. Such a public act would contribute to opposing the officials’ campaign in Montenegro and breaking away from decades of negative practices.
Dragan Koprivica, executive director of CDT