Since completing its democratic transition in late 2000, Serbia has struggled through a series of short-lived governments, with elections averaging more than once a year.  Overly focused on campaigning and personality-based appeals, parties have made little progress developing sound policy, branding parties around policies, or implementing sound reforms once in power. 

Since the summer of 2008, Serbia has had a stable, pro-reform government, but the political actors have not had much success in reorienting themselves away from elections and personality and toward policy and governance.  In response, IRI recently held a series of trainings for Serbia’s major political parties and think tanks on developing issue-based policies within parties and party caucuses in parliament, and on building think tanks and other advocacy groups that can create policy outside of government and hold it accountable.

Viktor Niznansky and Jan Marusenec, Slovak decentralization experts, and Chris Butler, a US advocacy and communications expert, consulted with Serbian political parties and think tanks on issues ranging from tax, budgeting, competitiveness policy, strategies for communicating policy, decentralization and regionalization policy.  During these meetings the parties — the Democratic Party (DS), G17+, the Serbian Renewal Movement, and the Liberal Democratic Party — were particularly interest in budget transparency, pension and healthcare reform, and tax reform. 

The consultations with the Slovak think tank leaders focused on assisting G17+, a regionally-based party, develop a sound regionalization plan for Serbia.  In addition, the Slovaks trainers met with parliamentarians from the DS who are interested in decentralization policy; and with two Serbian think tanks, Katalaksija and the Progressive Club, which are currently undertaking their own study on decentralization options for Serbia.

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