Gabon’s presidential election “lacked transparency”, the head of the 73-strong EU electoral monitoring team in the country said on Monday, a day before the official results were due out. Speaking to reporters in the capital Libreville, Bulgarian MEP Mariya Gabriel said Saturday’s vote in the oil-rich Central African country, was “managed in a way that lacked transparency.” “The mission condemns the lack of transparency in the electoral bodies which failed to make essential information available to the campaigns, like the electoral roll or a list of polling stations,” she said. The EU observers said that a week before the election only half of voters had received their ballot cards. The remarks came after a bitterly disputed election in which both sides accused the other of electoral fraud. Official results will not be published until Tuesday, and there are fears that the tensions may erupt into a repeat of the violence seen after the disputed 2009 election.
Supporters of Gabon’s president and his chief rival have both said they expect to win an election that has proved to be the most serious challenge yet to the Bongo family’s half-century rule. The rival, Jean Ping, 73, traded accusations of fraud that raised the prospect of increased tension in the wake of an uncharacteristically bitter campaign. Ping distributed figures showing him easily beating incumbent Ali Bongo Ondimba in Saturday’s vote. “The general trends indicate we are the winner of this important presidential election,” Ping told reporters and a large crowd of cheering supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in the capital, Libreville. “Despite numerous irregularities … you have managed to thwart this regime’s congenital traps of fraud.”
The last time Vladimir Putin’s political party won national elections, ballot-stuffing allegations sparked the biggest protests of his rule. Five years on, Putin appears to be so confident in his hold on power that even his most dogged adversary is welcome to challenge United Russia in next month’s parliamentary polls — Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the London-based former oil billionaire who was charged with murder in absentia in December. Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison, is back doing what he says got him jailed in the first place: supporting Putin’s opponents. All but one of the 19 candidates he’s grooming have been accepted by authorities overseeing the vote. Since being freed in 2013, Khodorkovsky has vowed to use what’s left of his fortune to hasten the end of the Putin era, though he admits the Kremlin’s grip on the electoral process is so strong it has nothing to fear, for now.
Russian opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov said on Thursday parliamentary elections next month were being rigged against his party, meaning it would have to win up to three times more votes than legally necessary to get into parliament. Starved of air time, vilified by Kremlin-backed media, and physically attacked on the stump, Kasyanov and his allies in the People’s Freedom party or PARNAS face an uphill struggle to break into the 450-seat lower house of parliament on Sept. 18. Despite an economic crisis, the main pro-Kremlin United Russia party is expected to comfortably win the elections, which are seen as a dry run for Vladimir Putin’s presidential re-election campaign in 2018. The crisis means United Russia’s margin of victory may be slimmer than recent years however, giving PARNAS, which currently has no seats in parliament, a glimmer of hope.
Over the past few years, the Russian authorities have been gradually rolling out a strategy for managing the upcoming State Duma election. What are the elements of this strategy, and will it help the Kremlin achieve its objectives? Like most modern authoritarian regimes which organise elections, the regime in Russia aspires to be viewed as broadly legitimate while keeping political pluralism highly constrained. These two objectives, evidently, are difficult to reconcile. In order to increase legitimacy, the regime allows more electoral competition, but at the same time it has an incentive to minimise competition, to which end it resorts to heavy-handed tactics including fraud, undermining its legitimacy. Electoral authoritarian regimes such as Russia’s employ idiosyncratic strategies to balance the dual objectives of maintaining legitimacy and limiting competition. They thereby face inevitable trade-offs in crafting their strategies and must regularly adapt them to account for changing circumstances. In the previous Duma election of 2011, the authorities sought to bank on the perceived strength of the ruling United Russia party and on the administrative capacity of the authorities (at different levels) to deliver required election results. This strategy had several flaws. Fewer people than anticipated were ready to vote for United Russia. Analyses of the voting results show that in many areas where no major election fraud was committed, only a quarter to a third of votes went to the ruling party. In order to get a (slight) majority of seats in the Duma, major election fraud was necessary. It was met by significant upheaval, mainly in the form of a wave of popular protests that drew the biggest crowds in Russia since the early 1990s. The fallout from the 2011 election was viewed in Russian political circles as a serious crisis.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu narrowly won re-election on Monday in a vote his main rival said was rigged. Hakainde Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) said it would appeal the result at the Constitutional Court, accusing election officials of fraud during the count which began after voting ended on Thursday. Lungu faced a tough challenge from Hichilema in a campaign to rule over Africa’s second-largest copper producer which has suffered an economic slump due to depressed commodity prices. Lungu, who narrowly beat Hichilema in a vote last year to replace late president Michael Sata, won 50.35 percent of the vote against 47.63 for his opponent, the Election Commission of Zambia (ECZ) said on Monday.
President Edgar Lungu was ahead of his main rival on Saturday in early counting from Zambia’s presidential election, but the main opposition said its count showed their candidate ahead and the vote may have been rigged. Lungu faces a stiff challenge from United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema, who accuses him of failing to steer the economy out of its slump after Africa’s second-largest copper producer was hit by weak commodity prices. He led with 262,149 votes against Hichilema’s 243,794 after 29 of the country’s 156 constituencies in Thursday’s voting had been collated, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) told a news conference also attended by political parties. Early results announced on Saturday from only eight constituencies had put Hichilema ahead. In a statement, the UPND said data from its own parallel counting system showed Hichilema beating Lungu “with a clear margin”, based on about 80 percent of votes counted.
National: Americans have become much less confident that we count votes accurately | The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s warning that the 2016 election is likely to be “rigged” has rightfully alarmed many observers, both here and abroad. Although the GOP nominee has provided no evidence of potential fraud, our research suggests that many voters may be receptive to his far-fetched claim, which could erode faith in the electoral system. Disputes over election results aren’t new, of course. In the wake of the 2000 presidential contest, ballot irregularities and the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore — which ended a recount in Florida and effectively handed the election to George W. Bush — led some Democrats to question the legitimacy of the outcome. Following Bush’s reelection in 2004, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a 2006 article in Rolling Stone claiming that Bush’s campaign had stolen the election. The culprit for many Democrats was electronic voting machines that could be hacked to flip Democratic votes to the Republican column. Trailing in the polls to Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, John McCain warned in a debate that the advocacy organization ACORN was engaging in voter registration fraud and was “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” When Obama defeated McCain and Mitt Romney in 2012, Republicans became more likely to express doubts about the legitimacy of those elections.
Final results are in from last weekend’s election in Nauru. The ruling party won 16 of 18 seats in voting described by outside observers as free and fair, but, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific New Minute, opposition leaders disagree. President Baron Waqa was re-elected as parliament met yesterday for the first time since Saturday’s vote. His increased majority, the government said, promises more continuity and further stability. Nauru is one of the smallest countries on earth, with just eight thousand registered voters…but one of the more controversial. Once wealthy from mining the deposits left by seabirds, the impoverished island nation now relies heavily on income from Australian run camps that house asylum seekers intercepted at sea.
United Kingdom: Brexit Voters Suspect Referendum Is Rigged, MI5 Participating In Backing ‘Remain’ | International Business Times
With only two days left before polls open in the historic Brexit vote on whether the United Kingdom will remain a member of the European Union, some voters believe spies and intelligence agents are playing roles in the referendum. Approximately a third of voters from political parties that support Britain leaving the EU believe the MI5 intelligence agency, Britain’s equivalent of the CIA, is working with the government to prevent a “leave” vote from taking place. A survey of 1,656 voters conducted by YouGov from June 13-14 asked potential voters whether it was true “MI5 is working with the U.K. government to try and stop Britain leaving the EU.”