CEMI - Centar za monitoring i istraživanje

Bosnjak: Introduce open lists, but find a model so that the number of women in the Parliament does not decrease

12. Jun. 2022. in news

A system of open electoral lists should be introduced in Montenegro, but a model must be found so that the number of women in the parliament does not decrease, said the Vice-President of the Parliament, Branka Bosnjak.

Bosnjak, in an interview with the MINA agency, said that she is not sure that the largest party in the Parliament, the Democratic Party of Socialists, is ready for open lists, reminding that two-thirds support would be needed for such a change in the electoral legislation.

"I don't know if the other parties are ready, there are parties that don't declare themselves. I certainly think that it is very healing, but we have to find a way not to reduce the number of women," Bosnjak believes.

She said that there is a danger that, with the introduction of the system of open electoral lists, the number of women in the Parliament will decrease, adding that this was the case in Croatia.

"I think that a model can be found so that we do not reduce the number of women, because that is very important. We barely managed to increase the number of women in the parliament", said Bosnjak.

She said that Montenegro is still a patriarchal society, so we must work on emancipation, and that political actors and actresses should attract women to enter politics.

"I always say, politics is also whether the width of the sidewalk will be enough for a baby carriage. Everything is politics. We need to be active, proactive, we feel bad when someone thinks we are a number or part of a quota", said Bosnjak.

She said that it is necessary to start with open electoral lists in Montenegro, adding that it is up to the experts to assess whether this should be done gradually or immediately.

An additional reason for opening electoral lists, according to Bosnjak, would be Montenegro's participation in the European Parliament elections, after the country becomes a member of the European Union.

"It is especially important at the local level, since people will never choose someone who is not good for the local community, because they know each other well," said Bosnjak.

She said that it is very important that political actors guarantee what they say during pre-election campaigns.

"I think that the Montenegrin people are quite wise, but I am afraid that many on the political scene are afraid of how it will go, after all these years, and that there will be obstruction in that sense," said Bosnjak.

Asked if she thinks that the system of open lists will increase the responsibility of citizens' representatives in parliament, she answered in the affirmative.

"Of course, because then you are the true representative of the citizens. You will recognize your real electorate, you will have additional responsibility and you will probably listen more because you will know that, otherwise, you will be punished", said Bosnjak.

When asked how the potential situation would have an impact on the parties if the holder of the list gets fewer votes than someone who is ranked worse, she said that there are various models of open lists, including those that prescribe the obligation for the first on the list to enter the parliament.

"It's not bad as a temporary solution either, because I wouldn't like it to go through a sharp and difficult cut. We need some time to appreciate those who were fighters. "The politics in Montenegro is such that sometimes you hold grudges without any basis for it," Bosnjak believes.

She added that, in order to find a suitable model, it is necessary to consult non-governmental organizations that are actively involved in elections and electoral legislation, as well as the Organization for European Security and Cooperation (OSCE).

"But we have to go to open lists because the partitocracy must be reduced. I think that the change of government also showed that the same system is being copied", Bosnjak said.

She stated that the opening of the newspaper would potentially lead to the depoliticization of certain institutions.

"The Law on Political Parties is also very important. I think there is no need for someone to be the head of the party for more than two terms. Because parties are starting to look like private properties, and people need to be attracted to politics," said Bosnjak.

When asked how she views the control role of the parliament on the executive power, she replied that she recalled that, in the last convocation of the government, the Parliament voted for interpellations against certain ministers, who were not dismissed after that.

Bosniak, speaking about controlled hearings in the parliament, said that the Parliament does its part, but that Montenegro is faced with a lack of responsibility.

"Since we should be working on the Law on the Parliament, I expect that we will prescribe everything there in more detail, because through that law we will improve, especially the control role of the Parliament and define how the behavior should be depending on the conclusions from individual hearings", she stated. Bosnjak.

She stated that a mechanism must be found so that the conclusions of parliamentarians are not only in the form of suggestions or recommendations, but that they are followed.

"There will be suggestions or recommendations and attempts to introduce some more control mechanisms. I find it very controversial, after the interview, that we cannot dismiss ministers if the Prime Minister does not decide to do so. I think he has to commit to something. You feel that this protection, as if it doesn't matter to them", says Bosnjak.

She added that one must also think about the protective mechanism, because there is a danger that some majorities in the Parliament will abuse that mechanism.

According to Bosnjak, the Law on the Government is also very important, which, as she pointed out, should be compatible with the Law on the Parliament.

She stated that it is equally important for the Law on Government to prescribe the structure of the executive power, that is, to define how many ministries there should be, so that this number would not be subject to party manipulation.

"The best combination is to adopt them together. From those two laws, taking into account what our European partners suggest, I think we have to change and strengthen the supervisory role of the Parliament", said Bosnjak.

She said that a working group was formed that should also prepare the law on the government, assessing that this act and the law on the Parliament should be compatible.

Bosnjak said that the Parliament, at the request of the Parliament, delegated the secretary of the Legislative Committee to be a member of the working group for drafting the law on the government.

She said that between the laws on the Parliament and the Government and with respect for the suggestions of European partners, a model will be found to strengthen the supervisory role of the Parliament and respect its conclusions.

The podcast and the text were made as part of the project that the MINA agency is implementing with the Center for Monitoring and Research, and which was financially supported by the Embassy of the United States of America in Montenegro.