For the second time in five days, the head of state refused to call elections in Šavnik: By law or on his own initiative

The President does not have the right to assess the validity of the decisions on the dissolution of the Šavnik Municipal Council, but the obligation to act on them and call for elections, say "Vijesti" interlocutors. Milatović's cabinet unofficially says that the head of state has no obligation to act on decisions, that the laws are clear and that he is not obliged to act two years after the end of the mandate of the SO

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Milatović, Photo: BORIS PEJOVIC
Milatović, Photo: BORIS PEJOVIC
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Head of State Jakov Milatovic he did not have the right to assess the validity of the decisions on the dissolution of the parliament in Šavnik, but the obligation to act on them and call elections in that municipality.

This was unofficially told to "Vijesta" by two lawyers - one knowledgeable in election laws, the other a respected lawyer, commenting on Milatović's move last week and yesterday not to call elections in Šavnik based on the decisions of the local authorities and the Government on the dissolution of the Šavnik Municipal Assembly (SO).

He claims that those decisions do not provide a legally valid basis for calling elections, i.e. that the adoption of a decision on a new exit to the polls would constitute a violation of the legal order. Therefore, he says that the competent institutions should contribute to the completion of the elections at the two polling stations where voting has been ongoing since October 2022, in order to constitute new administrative bodies as soon as possible.

Milatović's cabinet unofficially told "Vijesta" that the president has no obligation to act on two decisions, that the provisions of the law on local self-government and the election of councilors and deputies are clear, and that the head of state is not obliged to act two years after the end of the mandate of the Šavnica to the parliament.

One of the lawyers with whom "Vijesti" spoke said that the president does not have the authority to assess the legality of a decision, but that Milatović gave it to himself as a right.

"There was no clean solution. The decisions (SO Savnik and Vlade) can be challenged before the courts, but I think that Milatović had a legal obligation to call elections... If I were in that position, I would call elections, and then let other institutions deal with the problem they did not solve. It is not Milatović's fault that the election process in Šavnik has not been completed... It is his legal obligation to call for elections the day after the dissolution of the SO, be it self-dissolution or dissolution that is a consequence of forced administration," the interlocutor assesses.

He states that this is a case that, according to him, may result in the president arbitrating in some future legal situations when he is going to do something he is obligated to do by law.

"Nowhere in the law does it say that he appreciates the reasons that decided the Government or the Council of Ministers to make decisions," adds the interlocutor familiar with election laws.

Another jurist says that the president has no right to determine whether the decision of another body is valid or not, and to do or not do something based on that.

"I think that the president made a mistake in the case of both decisions, and that he had to call for elections," the interlocutor underlined.

Milatović's cabinet said that the Law on the Election of Councilors and Members of Parliament (Article 15, Paragraph 2) stipulates that in the event of the termination of the mandate of the municipal assembly before the end of the term for which it was elected, the president calls for elections on the day following the day of its dissolution, i.e. the day of its entry into office. the strength of the decision to shorten the mandate. They add that the Law on Local Self-Government (Article 37 paragraph 4) states that in the event of the termination of the mandate of the assembly before the end of the term for which it was elected, the president calls for elections on the following day from the date of entry into force of the decision on dissolution, i.e. from the date of entry into force of the decision on the shortening of the mandate.

"Those two articles of the law concerning the president of the state are very clear. We are bound by decisions concerning what the president's duties are. This obligation does not exist two years after the end of the time for which the municipal assembly was elected, and especially not when we have a legal decision on the ongoing election process", unofficially told "Vijesta".

Last week, Milatović assessed that the "Decision on shortening the mandate of the Councilors of the Municipality of Šavnik" does not provide a legally valid basis for calling elections. He said that the provisions of the Law on Local Self-Government stipulate that the SO can make a decision to shorten the mandate of the parliament, "while the content of the adopted decision regulates the shortening of the mandate of councilors". He states that the regulations do not include the possibility of "shortening the mandate of councilors", but the legal institution of shortening the mandate of the SO "refers to the assembly as a collective body, and not to the councilors who make up it, through systemic legal solutions".

Regarding the Government's decision, Milatović announced yesterday that it could not result in elections because, according to him, the mandate of the current convocation of the local parliament expired in June 2022. that making a decision on new elections would mean "violating the legal order and legal security in the country".

Milatović
Milatovićphoto: Boris Pejović

The government and the Ministry of Public Administration (MJU) did not tell "Vijesti" how they view Milatović's decision, whether a committee of commissioners will be sent to Savnik, and if so - when.

Milatović's action further complicates the situation in Savnik, as it is unclear how the municipality will be governed after the local assembly is dissolved. The question is whether the arrival of the board of commissioners makes sense if it is likely that the elections, which have lasted for almost a year and a half, will not be completed.

One of the interlocutors of "Vijesti" says that he does not rule out the arrival of the commissioner, but notes that in that case the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) could refer to its decision to shorten the mandate. From that party, they announced that they would not allow the introduction of forced administration.

"They (SO) dismissed the Municipal Election Commission (MEC), adopted a strategic plan, but that SO can no longer do anything. They tied their hands", the interlocutor assesses.

The previous Thursday, the government dissolved the Šavnica parliament and appointed a committee of commissioners to replace it, but in the evening the councilors of the ruling coalition of DPS and Social Democrats (SD) voted to shorten the mandate in an electronic session. However, on Friday, the executive authority unexpectedly withdrew its decision "from the procedure of publication in the Official Gazette". The reason, as unofficially explained to "Vijesti" at the time, is that the decision of SO Šavnik to shorten the mandate came into force on the day it was adopted, while the Government's decision was supposed to come into force on the day it was published in the Official Gazette.

After the Government's move, the option of introducing forced administration was out of the question, and the decision of the DPS and SD councilors, which could lead to the calling of elections, remained valid. Then Milatović spoke up and refused to call elections, so that the Official Gazette would publish the Government's decision on forced administration the night before last.

The elections in Šavnik began on October 23, 2022, when they were held in 13 other municipalities, but they have not yet ended because the members of the election committees from the opposition coalition "For the Future of Šavnik", led by the former Democratic Front, did not allow part of the newly registered voters to vote because they , they claim, were written to support DPS.

At two polling stations, in the Municipality building and in the village of Kruševica, where 541 voters have the right to vote, voting was held on nine occasions, the last time on December 18, 2022, when the elections were interrupted again, after which the Municipal Election Commission (MEC) there could not arrangements to repeat them.

Even if they elect a new MEC, the balance of power will remain the same

When asked whether the commissioners, if they come to Šavnik, can elect a new MEC, one of the interlocutors of "Vijesti" answers that it is possible, because they perform the function of the SO.

However, he says he doesn't think that would solve the problem.

"And to dissolve the MEC again, the new ones must be elected according to the same party quotas, so the balance of power will remain the same," explains the interlocutor.

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