Parties gathered 110,000 signatures: Real or phantom support?

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Political parties in Montenegro managed to gather a fantastic 110,000 citizens’ signatures in support of their candidates lists. That figure represents one quarter of the current Montenegrin electorate and almost 40% of the total number of voters appearing at polling stations. Thus, DPS announced it managed to gather 46,000 signatures, the Key coalition 20,000, SD 10,500, DF gathered 10,000, SDP 6,044, BS 5,000, Serbian Party 4,500, Alternativa 4,500, BDZ 4,500, leading to the total figure of over 110,000 signatures. However, analysts engaged in the election process openly suspect the validity of these signatures.

According to the Law on Election of Chancellors and Members of Parliament, a party or a coalition shall be supported by signatures of at least 0.8 percent of the electorate, ie about 4,200 voters, in order for the State Election Commission to approve it.

Activists of non-governmental organisations engaged in the election process openly suspect the validity of these signatures. They consider that certain parties simply lack the capacity necessary to gather all those signatures. To make things even more interesting, earlier on, Vlado Dedovic from the State Election Commission (DIK) said that that the institution lacked the capability to check the validity of signatures.

Milica Kovacevic from the Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT) told Pobjeda daily that such a large number of signatures gathered represented a demonstration of the political power of the parties – but it is groundless.

“There are irregularities in almost every list and often repeated signatures, but, unfortunately, DIK lacks the capability to do all the checks”, Kovacevic told Pobjeda.

At the same time, Kovacevic explained that it is theoretically possible for a voter to support more than one list, but according to the electoral law, which was adopted in 2014, such an act is considered just as a misdemeanour.

“Due to the impossibility of adequate checks, it can happen that someone, say, supported a certain party on your behalf. That is treated as a criminal offense because it is a signature forgery”, Kovacevic said.

Her colleague from the CDT Dragan Koprivica believes that all signatures should be checked in the same way the authenticity of the voter register is checked through the portal.

He says that over 10% of the total number of signatures gathered by political parties is likely to be forged and that this was done without the citizens whose personal data are abused being aware of that.

Source: Cafe Del Montenegro