THE TREND OF SHRINKING CIVIC SPACE IN TIME OF ELECTIONS
Serbia Case Study: Political Pressures on Civil Society Groups during Elections
Presidential elections held in Serbia last year and the local elections this year showed a rise of a nationalist and populist rhetoric during the elections, which further endangers the work of civil society organizations. In the last local elections in Belgrade, certain right-wing parties, such as the Zavetnici (Oath Keepers), based all of their campaigns on hate speech and promoted the termination of the institutional support for the CSOs, because they consider them “foreign agents”. The organizations that independently observe the election process were especially targeted by pro-governmental media. Also, some of their observers were not allowed to observe the elections at all, at some places, some were attacked at polling stations and many of them were not allowed to participate in the counting of the ballots. In order to stop this rhetoric by different political options and media, further improvement of regulatory bodies is needed (Regulatory Body for Electronic Media), especially during elections, and improvement of the legal framework and practice in Serbia.