Yugoslav Election Update
While Yugoslavia's Federal Election Commission has scheduled a second round of voting in presidential elections, poll data produced by two independent observer groups, the Center for Free Elections and Democracy in Serbia (CeSID), and Free Serbia, show opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica with an overwhelming majority that would preclude a runoff vote between him and Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.
Freedom House has co-operated closely with the two civic-based groups, stands by their methods and practices, and can confidently vouch for the veracity of their findings.
CeSID, a Serbian election monitoring organization with several offices throughout Yugoslavia, indicates on its website that Mr. Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, a coalition of 18 political parties, has captured 57 percent of the vote, compared with 33 percent for President Milosevic. Voter turnout has been estimated at 70% of approximately 7.5 million eligible voters. While conceding Milosevic trails in the vote totals, federal tallies show a far different and contentious story. Government numbers show Kostunica with 48 percent of the vote and 40 percent for the Yugoslav president, thus necessitating a second round of voting.
With international bodies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) banned from operating in Serbia, groups such as CeSID and Free Serbia are among the few non-partisan, independent bodies providing reliable election analysis and poll results, information on voting irregularities, and other political developments throughout the former Yugoslavia. Federal authorities have in the past disrupted their activities, including restricting access to the groups' websites.
Freedom House monitors political rights and civil liberties worldwide and operates a host of democratization programs, focusing especially on the countries of eastern and central Europe. As part of its efforts to help realize genuine democratic reform in the former Yugoslavia, Freedom House works with a number of civil society and election monitoring groups in Serbia.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.