Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, has received a timely boost after the opposition party that keeps his minority government in power pledged not to force an election because of the turmoil over Brexit. The move by Fianna Fáil will bolster Mr Varadkar in talks over a “backstop” on the Irish border, one of the most contentious elements of the EU withdrawal agreement that UK prime minister Theresa May is fighting to get through the British parliament. It underscores the depth of anxiety in Dublin about the threat of damage to the country’s economy and Northern Ireland’s peace settlement from a disorderly no-deal Brexit. Mrs May was forced to cancel emergency talks with Mr Varadkar planned for Wednesday as she battled a confidence motion from her own Conservative party.
Articles about voting issues in Europe.
Over the last few years, the world has witnessed Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries: from meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, to the military occupation of Ukrainian territories. In its subversive operations the Kremlin hacked into servers, subjected infrastructure and organizations to cyberattacks, and deployed legions of internet trolls on social media to spread lies and disinformation. In response to Kremlin threat, an international rapid-response team will monitor and expose any attempts by Russia to interfere in the upcoming Ukrainian presidential elections in 2019. The team is comprised of experts from the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, the Razumkov Center, a Ukrainian think tank, and Stop Fake, a multilingual volunteer project for debunking Russian propaganda.
When Hungarians picked up their ballots to vote in April’s national elections, more than half of their 23 choices were parties they’d never heard of. The familiar players — Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling right-wing Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik — were there, along with, yes, the Two-Tailed Dog Party, known for its community projects but also for not only promised to fill the capital’s streets with beer to end traffic jams, but also plastered signs around Budapest calling for eternal life plus 20 years for all Hungarians. But what about the “Party for a Sporty and Healthy Hungary,” “Poor People for Hungary,” and “The Party for All Poor People?” Along with 11 more, they have no website, no campaign materials — and no real intention to win votes. They’re called “fake parties,” and they’re not aspiring victory. Hungarian police are investigating some 100 cases of suspected election fraud by parties that appear to have been created shortly before the 2014 elections to cash in on lucrative campaign subsidies. But experts say that those parties aren’t just formed to siphon campaign money. They’re helping Orban cement his hold on power.
Moldova’s parliamentary election campaign began Monday amid concerns that Russia is seeking to influence the results in the former Soviet republic. Citizens will vote on Feb. 24 ballot for the 101-seat legislature that is currently controlled by a broadly pro-European coalition. Concerns arose after Russia’s interior ministry on Dec. 3 said that Moldovans who have overstayed their residence permits in Russia can return to Moldova from Jan. 1 to Feb. 25 and re-enter Russia without being penalized. The ministry said Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon had requested the measure. Dodon enjoys close relations with the Kremlin and regularly travels to Moscow.
United Kingdom: Government faces legal challenge over voter ID checks at local elections | The Independent
Government plans to introduce voter ID checks are to be challenged in court on the basis they deter people from voting. Neil Coughlan, 64, has launched a legal case – backed by a £10,000 online fundraising campaign – to prevent the scheme being piloted at next year’s local elections. He said he wants “to stand up against a government that is taking our democracy down a very dangerous path.”Mr Coughlan, who does not have any form of photo ID, has received support from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), who claim the government’s plans are “undemocratic” and a waste of taxpayer’s money.
Malta: PN’s trust in electronic counting ‘seriously decreased’ after changes without Commission’s consent | The Malta Independent
The Partit Nazzjonalista’s trust level in the new electronic vote counting system has “seriously decreased” after changes were made to the system by the company responsible for it without informing the Electoral Commission or the political party delegates. Speaking to this newsroom after a report published in The Malta Independent, PN Secretary Clyde Puli said that the PN had voted in favour of this system in parliament as it removes tension by reducing long waiting times; however after news of the non-consensual changes emerged following the system’s second mock test on Saturday, Puli said that their trust level in the system has “seriously decreased” and that they were “very concerned”. The PN demanded reassurances about what safeguards will be in place to ensure that no one can just change the system at will before they can re-affirm their status in favour of this system. The situation, Puli said, “is dangerous for democracy”.
President Kersti Kaljulaid signed into action the go ahead for the general election in Estonia, due on 3 March 2019. Whilst the date of 3 March has long been talked about, according to § 78 (3) of the Estonian constitution, the president ”calls regular elections of the Riigikogu..” (official English translation), so the move was necessary to make the date official. The deadline for so doing was Sunday, 2 December. Ms Kaljulaid also made a speech at an event in the eastern Estonian town of Jõhvi, giving practical advice and setting out her views on the importance of democratic behaviour.
Malta: New electronic vote counting system modified without Electoral Commission’s consent | The Malta Independent
Sources who were in the counting hall where the new electronic vote counting system was being tested yesterday expressed serious concerns over the way the system had been modified between the first and second mock test. It transpires that the company responsible for operating the system had made amendments to it without informing the Electoral Commission or the political parties’ delegates. Such changes made without their consent could be potentially dangerous, sources claim. During the first mock test of the new system in November, a number of concerns had been flagged, especially on the number of ballot sheets that the system failed to recognise and were subsequently passed on to a human adjudicator. This amounted to approximately 40 per cent of the votes.
The Republic of Moldova has close ties with the EU, but abuse of rule of law and democratic principles puts that relationship in danger. The country is part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy. It is implementing an association agreement with the EU, aiming at political association and economic integration. The EU has become its main trading partner and development aid donor and, since April 2014, Moldovan citizens can also travel to the EU without a visa. However, Moldova faces a number of key challenges, including a lack of respect for the rule of law, the absence of an independent and effective functioning judiciary, corruption, and controlled state institutions by the ruling Democratic Party.
UK voters are among the most concerned in Europe that elections could be sabotaged by cyber-attacks, according to a new European Commission study. The survey polled over 27,000 citizens across the EU with face-to-face interviews to better understand their concerns ahead of upcoming European elections in May 2019. While an average of 61% said they were worried about potential cyber-attacks manipulating the results of the election, the figure rose to 67% in the UK — one of the highest of any country. UK voters (64%) were also more likely than most Europeans (59%) to fear foreign actors and criminal groups influencing elections covertly. Across Europe, 67% said they were concerned that their personal data could be used to target the political messages they see — a reference to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that may have impacted the results of the US presidential election and Brexit referendum in 2016.