Vice-President of the Parliament of Montenegro Ms Branka Bošnjak today has taken part in the conference on “How to increase the integrity of electoral process”, organised by the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the British Embassy in Podgorica, held in CUE Hotel.
Vice-President Bošnjak spoke on “Voter register reforms - what kind of changes we need”.
“As someone who was a member of working bodies in charge of amending and improving electoral legislation in the previous period, I must say that I have very actively dealt with this topic, together with my colleagues from the Democratic Front. We proposed amendments to the Law on Permanent and Temporary Residence, because the law is contentious in itself, because it does not have a clause enabling a state authority body to delete persons who do not reside in Montenegro from the permanent residence register, however, there was lack of political will to change it at that time. I hope that the working group for the control of the voter register formed at the Ministry of Interior would finally draft a piece of legislation that would regulate this very significant segment of electoral legislation”, pointed out the Vice-President of the Parliament.
Vice-President Bošnjak said that they in the Democratic Front were never in favour of deleting someone from the voter register so easily: “We need to have checks, but it is incredible to rely only on the conscience of the citizens, and whether they will check-out from the residence register or not, while there are no punitive mechanisms”.
She stated that from 1992 to 2018, the number of citizens decreased by more than 22,000, while the number of voters increased by over 100 thousand, which indicates tampering with the voter register.
“It is unbelievable that the number of voters increases while the number of inhabitants and citizens decreases. For example, in 2018, we had only 6.5 percent of people not entitled to vote, i.e. persons under the age of 18, which is nonsense. A realistic voter register should have about 450,000 voters”, said Vice-President Bošnjak.
The Vice-President of the Parliament also pointed out that, from 1992 to 1997, the number of voters increased by eight percent and added: „A more realistic voter register was made in 2001, and there was a drastic increase in 2006. At that time, we had voters amounting to 85% of citizens, while in 2018 as many as 93%. It is abundantly clear that this is a manipulation for the purpose of winning the election.”
Furthermore, Vice-President Bošnjak said that clear criteria must be prescribed for changing one’s permanent residence, so as not to abuse the lack of a 6-month residency requirement for the right to vote at the local level.
The Vice-President of the Parliament stated that one of the most important goals of the current term of the Parliament was precisely the comprehensive electoral legislation reform, and the proof of this claim was the Decision on Forming the Committee on Comprehensive Electoral Reform, all with a view to organise fair and free elections.
In addition to Vice-President Bošnjak, members of the Parliament of Montenegro Mr Raško Konjević and Mr Danijel Živković, Minister of Interior Mr Sergej Sekulović and President of the Management Board of the Center for Monitoring and Research Mr Zlatko Vujović also spoke on the said topic.