The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections “Under Scrutiny” conducted research on direct and indirect influence on voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the results of the survey, as many as 40 percent of respondents stated that they experienced some form of political pressure.
The Coalition “Under Scrutiny” points out that political pressures are becoming more frequent every year.
The survey was conducted in August of this year in 69 out of 143 cities and municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (40 in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 28 in the Republika Srpska and Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina) and included 868 citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the findings show that political pressures and the undemocratic and illegal influence on the electoral will of citizens is very much a part of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s reality.
“Political pressures on male and female voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina are both an open secret and an under-researched problem, but they are also an under-represented topic except in the period leading up to the elections themselves. What is particularly worrying is that many forms of political pressure have become common the behavior of political subjects participating in election races, which has led to the fact that citizens often see pressure on voters as regular party activities,” stated the “Under Scrutiny” Coalition.
They pointed out that the goal of such research is for citizens to actively oppose pressure on voters, caused by electoral corruption, and to become more resistant to all forms of pressure and intimidation of voters.
The research of the Coalition “Under Scrutiny” showed that over 80 percent of the respondents were familiar with the term and meaning of political pressure, while almost 40 percent of the respondents stated that they had experienced some form of political pressure. Additionally, close to 30 percent of respondents stated that they experienced political pressure to participate in some political or party activities against their will.
“Of the forms of political pressure on voters, direct pressure on who to vote for comes first. Next comes attendance at political or party events, pressure to join a party, especially for the purpose of exercising certain rights or offering personal benefits (most often employment). Respondents ranked high and political pressure related to collecting so-called ‘safe’ votes for a party or candidate, then pressure to support and promote parties or candidates on social networks,” they added.
Elections represent the basic pillar of every democracy and the opportunity for citizens to express their voice and influence the shaping of the future of their country, and no one should have the right to influence citizens in any way to vote against their will, emphasized the “Under Scrutiny” Coalition.
They added that they believe it is necessary to introduce a policy of zero tolerance towards political pressures and abuses in order to create an atmosphere in which such activities are most severely condemned and punished.
“Political entities must respect the law and refrain from exerting pressure on voters. Cases of alleged pressure on voters should be investigated quickly, thoroughly and effectively, and prosecutors and the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina should promptly call the perpetrators to account,” they said.