Interdepartmental Working Group harmonizes methodology for amendments to electoral legislation

Interdepartmental Working Group harmonizes methodology for amendments to electoral legislation

SARAJEVO, June 8 (FENA) – Members of the Interdepartmental Working Group for Amendments to the Election Legislation of Bosnia and Herzegovina reached an agreement at today’s session regarding their work methodology and voted to discuss all proposals for amendments to the BiH Election Law, and in the end to vote on each amendment individually.

It was the methodology of the Interdepartmental Working Group, as well as the relations between this group and the Central Election Commission of BiH (CEC BiH) that was the focus of the session, at which four chapters of the Election Law of BiH were to be discussed.

As the chairwoman of the Interdepartmental Working Group Alma Čolo stated after the session, there was a possibility, if there was political will, for CEC BiH to appear as an authorized proposer and to present and defend its own proposal/draft of the amendments to the BiH Election Law, which they published on their website.

Since this was not the case, Čolo states that one of the options is for one of the members of the Working Group to take over the proposals the CEC BiH has drafted and then present those through all 20 chapters of the Election Law.

Responding to a journalist’s inquiry regarding communication with the CEC, the chair of the Interdepartmental Working Group recalled that this communication took place at the level of the Secretariat of the Working Group and the CEC and that certain “obstacles” have emerged in that regard since the CEC secretary did not have the authority to represent that institution, i.e. to participate in the work of this working group.

“A member of the Interdepartmental Group Damir Arnaut publicly invited the CEC to submit a proposal and that he would take it on himself and another member of this group Dževad Mahmutović took over their proposal and that proposal is put in the procedure, so no one prevents the CEC from submitting its own proposals to this working group,” explained Čolo, stating that in the meantime, certain proposals of interested stakeholders have been collected and that the Working Group can now focus on the work more seriously.

Deputy Chairman of the Interdepartmental Working Group Bariša Čolak, whose proposal to first collect and consider all proposals, and then proceed to vote individually on all amendments, met with the approval of members of this group, said that it was good that the proposal was supported, “because otherwise, at each session of the Working Group, if decisions were to be made on certain articles of the Election Law, we could fall into some contradictions”.

When asked about the positions of the HDZ and the SDA regarding the Election Law and their possible harmonization of positions, Čolak answered that certain steps forward have been made.

He is of the opinion that another dimension of this issue should be intensified through talks between political party leaders together with the experts in order to incorporate these matters and address them with the already mentioned issues, including the implementation of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The discussion showed that there are different views when it comes to the role of the CEC in this process, in connection with which there was a lot of controversy with frequent remarks by members of the Working Group.

Recommendations of Transparency International were also presented at the session regarding the amendments to the BiH Election Law, focusing on various aspects of the election process, and the shortcomings of the process identified by the TI during monitoring, including the Law on Financing of Political Parties, recommendations of GRECO and other international organizations in this context.

The next session is planned for June 23, when the discussion on the mentioned chapters of the Election Law of BiH should continue.

The amendment of the election law in BiH is one of the 14 priority conditions in the Opinion of the European Commission that BiH must meet before the start of negotiations on EU membership.