Even this electoral process in Bosnia and Herzegovina did not result in a more transparent political party financing process. Citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina were mostly deprived of information about the funds used by political parties to finance their pre-election activities.
According to the report of the Group of Countries against Corruption (GRECO), only one recommendation has been implemented regarding the publication of information on the finances of political entities participating in the electoral process.
GRECO underlined that national authorities have only proposed partial solutions which do not meet European standards.
“Political parties were required to keep records of dues and voluntary contributions and issue certificates, include benefits received from related parties in financial accounts, and establish internal financial control mechanisms,” the report said. of GRECO.
A particular problem, as we have highlighted, is the lack of adequate sanctions for violations of party financing rules.
“Although a new audit department for political party financing has been created within the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is no indication of an increase in financial and human resources allocated to the CEC for exercise of its supervisory functions related to elections. party financing and elections,” GRECO said.
GRECO stressed that it is necessary to continue the reform process to further increase the transparency of political financing and encourage the role of political parties as a fundamental part of the democratic system.
“GRECO once again calls on Bosnia and Herzegovina to fully implement eight of the nine recommendations on Theme II that remain outstanding,” the report underlines.
Nedim Hogić, Bosnian lawyer and doctoral student at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, explains for ISF that the legislative framework that regulates these issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been overcome and has not been changed since 2012, it This is why it cannot meet the modern challenges of financing political parties.
“Both the Council of Europe and the OSCE/ODIHR have been warning about this phenomenon for almost a decade, but unfortunately, they have failed to take more significant political action that would increase pressure on actors national policies to adopt the necessary changes or on foreign actors. political actors not to recognize the legitimacy of the elections. The recently imposed amendments to the electoral law by the High Representative addressed this issue, but did not cover all possible misappropriation of funds intended for the electoral campaign,” Hogić said.
According to him, the main problem lies in the fact that the legislative framework does not fully prescribe the obligation of transparency of political parties.
Hogić explains that according to the current law, parties are not obliged to provide data on the legal entities they control.
“Media outlets are under no obligation to publish reports indicating to whom they rented media space and under what conditions. » As is the case in Montenegrin legislation, there is no obligation to monitor employment at the level of local self-government units or cantons immediately before the elections. There is no single agency with the essential skills for preventing corruption, but several institutions need to coordinate their work on these issues,” explains Hogić.
According to him, all these factors prevent transparency and political accountability.
Case of the Hungarian Fund in Republika Srpska
Case of the Hungarian Fund in Republika Srpska
After the visit of the Hungarian Prime Minister to the Republika Srpska in November 2021, the creation of the “Hungarian Fund” was announced, which is expected to invest 100 million euros in the Republika Srpska.
Orbán’s support for the Republika Srpska stands out from similar programs that Hungary has offered to countries where the Hungarian minority lives, since only 166 members of the Hungarian national minority live in the Republika Srpska.
During the election campaign, farmers in Republika Srpska were allowed to appeal for help in purchasing machinery and tools. According to Radio Free Europe, 35 million euros have been earmarked for this purpose, which represents only the first part of the aid agreed during Viktor Orbán’s private visit to Dodik in November last year.
Many in Bosnia and Herzegovina believe that this is just one of the ways in which Viktor Orbán is financing Milorad Dodik’s election campaign with Hungarian taxpayers’ money.
Nedim Hogić says that the use of funds that Viktor Orban used to support the RS, indirectly Milorad Dodik, can be an extraordinary example of circumventing the law.
“The funds were not paid directly to a political party – which would be contrary to the law – but to the Pegassus Foundation, that is to say to part of the private and public legal entities under the control of the SNSD “, explains Hogić.
He claims that the knowledge of what happened to the money is lacking to be able to draw a definitive conclusion in this sense.
“If the funds paid to the Pegassus Foundation were used only for the purchase of Hungarian equipment, then it would only be a loan aimed at strengthening the financial situation of Hungarian exporters of agricultural equipment, and it would be a financially damaging agreement for the Hungarian government. than BiH and the RS because it buys favors from the RS, exporting its equipment which it could promote at a much cheaper price. If funds paid to private companies were used for the purchase of goods and services related to the campaign, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Prosecutor’s Office should investigate,” concludes Hogić.
Asked what should be done to improve the transparency of political party financing in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nedim Hogić explains that the first step would be to hire more people at the Central Election Commission who would be trained to deal with the financing of political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina. audit of financial reports of political parties.
He adds that the recommendations of the GRECO Committee of the Council of Europe, which refer to the transparency of the work of political parties, should also be adopted.
“The third step would be to strengthen the capacity of SIPA and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Prosecutor’s Office to monitor financial reporting. Unfortunately, during this election cycle, although we have seen increased work from the Attorney General’s Office and SIPA, it has been reduced not to monitoring voting-related election fraud or fraud related to voting. to the misuse of funds during the campaign”, Hogić concluded.
This article was published as part of the project “Civil society for good governance and the fight against corruption in South-Eastern Europe: Strengthening monitoring, advocacy and awareness-raising capacities (SELDI)” funded by the Union European.