Local elections are approaching, scheduled for 21. May. Campaigns, election rallies, promises, promises and promises are also under their control, as well as various successful and less successful attempts to outline the rules. If this did not happen, or if it were to be done to a lesser extent, among others, Transparency Inetrnational would be concerned. We talked with his president Davork Budimir.
What will Transparency International watch over during the campaign and upcoming local elections?
What I can say about these local elections 2017, we will also rely on Zagreb and Croatia as a whole, primarily with a transparent disposal of money, donations, and all those procedures that are important in this period, the pre-campaign and the campaign that we coming up. Also, we will have an open telephone line like all these years, in our office will incriminate volunteers who will receive complaints, and we will also have observers at polling stations as we had in the parliamentary elections.
What are you doing to the candidates, the parties?
We appeal to both the candidates and the teams and the electoral staff to take great care of how they collect money as they have the money because it is a prerequisite for a successful city and successful local elections to come to power in a fairly fair way through a transparent way.
What are the most common irregularities, where problems arise?
The main thing I would like to say, here is, two weeks ago, again a working group at the Ministry of Administration that is amending and supplementing the Law on Election Advertising and Financing of Political Parties, because this law has shown a series of illogicality and non-transparency. Remember only the past parliamentary elections and then when it was discovered that the parties financed the loans of commercial banks, which the law simply did not foresee. Regarding donations and all other individual choices, we feel it is bad for DIP, as the competent body with the role of controlling funding, is not competent for this. It just does not have any tools or can react timely. This means that when the parties submit reports on how they collected money, the SEC only exercises formal control - whether someone has surrendered or not, and on the other hand, that actual control simply does not exist.
If I am not mistaken, the law provides that each individual, each list, opens a special account for donations. Zagreb Finance Manager Slavko Kojić helped me calculate - it's about thousands of accounts. Is not that a bit chaotic?
I agree with you. The law foresees that up to one year before the election, these campaign funding bills could be opened, which could be avoided if there were any electronic forms where everything could be immediately checked. And imagine a situation where local and independent lists appear when an individual who is behind a party does not appear to be a candidate, for example, he has an account over his account where he receives a receipt, he can not open an account anywhere. And no one has been thinking about it, and local elections are the choices where real opportunity is given to independent, local individuals, to try to win the local government by solving local problems. Imagine a Marica in a small place that has a bargain on his salary - she has no way of opening such a bill. On the other hand, you have the forms that DIP prescribes for fulfillment. There you can write the wrong OIB, and no one will notice it. For parliamentary elections, for example, we have manually multiplied the lists they surrendered, not just small ones but big parties, and mistakes came to the big parties - both in HDZ and SDP. Therefore, these are very big problems. All of this, in the end, gives the possibility of great misuse.
When there is no party to the elections, very little money is received from donations. ie when they are obliged to pay part of the money to the party. For example, HNS MPs, as well as their members of the City Assembly, have to pay monthly installments. Now, is it a donation, if a member of a party pays it so.
Do we need legal changes, do I think?
Yes, what is urgently needed for Croatia is the Election Act that would regulate all the elections in Croatia, because you now have parliamentary elections, local elections, presidential elections, and for all of them there are different laws that differently regulate the same process. On the long run, it is necessary to introduce order and donation. Specifically, if each company or any body of public authority pays a salary and must report the income of an individual to the 15 in the month of the previous month in that form, such a form may be applied in this case, electronically delivered and that DIP in each the moment has donation information. If that were the case, united in one place, on a single web page, it would give the public and journalists the possibility to react easily and preventively, thus reducing the inconsistencies.