In the new prEUgovor Brief Alert, we analyze the preliminary and final reports on the campaign financing for the December 17 elections, point out their shortcomings and chronic problems, and offer recommendations for the legislator and the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, which (should) control these reports.

What Needs to Be Verified First in the Election Campaign Financing Reports

Early parliamentary, provincial and local elections that were held in Belgrade and 64 other cities and municipalities on 17 December 2023 were announced despite the fact that not a single problem related to campaign financing had been resolved.

Consequently, Serbia officially went into another election campaign at the beginning of November, without having resolved, among other things, the following issues:

• The value of the election campaign per one election list was not limited, making it possible to increase the already present imbalance in the abilities related to the pre-election promotion, mainly based on the use of budget funds;

• The issue of “third parties” conducting a paid campaign remained unregulated;

• Budget funds for financing the campaign were once again distributed towards the end of the campaign or after the election, instead of at the beginning of the campaign, when they were most needed; and

• No legal obstacles have been established to enable more effective supervision and punishment of detected irregularities.

All of this was the reason for ODIHR to remind Serbia of these omissions once again, in the final Report after the December elections.

The fulfilment of these recommendations is highly important also in the context of the European integration of Serbia, as can be seen in the European Commission’s last annual Report.

The reason for this prEUgovor Brief Alert is the publication of the final reports on campaign expenses for the December 2023 parliamentary, provincial and local elections during the second half of February 2024. Transparency Serbia, member of the prEUgovor coalition, analysed certain parts of those reports. The goal of the analysis is to point out possible cases of campaign financing and reporting against the rules, both to the citizens of Serbia and to the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, which currently controls these reports. In addition, the findings from this publication are also significant for the improvement of the rules on campaign financing, to which part of the ODIHR recommendations refer.

What Needs to Be Verified First in the Election Campaign Financing Reports