Milan Jovanović

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Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade


The Designing of Serbia’s Electoral System

Electoral system reforms in Serbia followed the practice of post-socialist states - they were frequent and they became the “eternal” issue of institutional design. A century and a half of electoral experience of alternating between the majoritarian and proportional formulas and frequent interventions of governments into the electoral process could not serve as a model at the beginning of redemocratization. External factors initially acted as an inspiration to a small number of domestic experts. In the second phase, their influence increases. Contextual factors had the largest influence. Round table was used only in electoral system redesign and, even then, only when the government power was weakened. Head of state and Constitutional Court represent the most active institutions intervening into the electoral system, initiating reforms or revoking certain provisions of the electoral law. Perception of the stakeholders’ interests evolved along with the reforms. By positioning themselves in the parliament through the proportional electoral model with a closed list and with the right of the parties to allocate mandates as they wished regardless of the voting lists order, party elites have opposed all types of reforms that would emphasize personalization of elections. Election reforms in Serbia have been at a standstill for a decade. They are debated in professional and political circles. Negative effects of the current electoral system have been observed. Mechanisms available to designers, which serve to achieve goals and solve problems, are also known. The only thing missing is the power to transform them into electoral laws, as there is no political will to do so.