Articles about voting issues in Europe.

Bulgaria: Election Officials Play Down Machine Voting Failure | Novinite

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has fended off claims that the vote might be contested due to the lack of electronic voting. CEC spokesperson Aleksandar Andreev has told the Bulgarian National Radio that the development is far from being the most substantial claim one could lodge over the election. The comments follow a CEC decision to cancel a tender that would have secured voting machines less than a month ahead of the election. Electronic voting has been made mandatory as an option alongside paper ballots under the latest amendments to legislation adopted last year. In the interview, however, Andreev has enumerated other possible reasons that could turn into “more serious” occasions to dispute the election results. These include the electoral rolls which have not been cleared for 27 years, giving ground to manipulate the vote. Read More

Bulgaria: Electronic Voting Scrapped in Bulgaria’s Snap Election | Novinite

Bulgarians will not be able to use a voting machine in March 26’s early election, officials say. The Central Election Commission (CEC) on Saturday scrapped the single offer submitted during the tender to deliver 12 500 voting machines needed. At a meeting that went into the evening, a special committee noted the bidder, a firm named Lireks, was unable to match the expectations and deliver the machines by March 10 and install the software by March 17. Lireks had insisted the newly built machines would arrive by March 20 with a software already installed. Read More

France: Holograms, mistrust and ‘fake news’ in France’s election | BBC

The communications coup of the French presidential election so far goes to far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon who, with a flick of his fingers, appeared at two simultaneous rallies 350 miles apart and created more internet buzz than he could have imagined. The technology required was nothing new – he does not have the money – but the performance was done with panache. Walking on stage in Lyon, Mr Melenchon materialised at exactly the same moment in hologram form before supporters in Paris. He then made a speech to both audiences for 90 minutes. He likes to talk.
Afterwards Mr Melenchon claimed 60,000 live followers of the event on Facebook and YouTube. Millions more in France and around the world read about the exploit afterwards and clicked online for a taster. In publicity terms it was magisterial. The Melenchon doppelganger shows how – like so much else in these elections — the communications pace is being set not by the mainstream parties, but by the outsiders. Of course these days no political outfit is complete without its e-guru advising on digital outreach. But in France 2017, the acknowledged masters of the reseaux sociaux (social networks) are Mr Melenchon for the far-left and Marine Le Pen for the far-right. Read More

Germany: A far-right grouping may become the biggest opposition party in Germany | The Washington Post

Frauke Petry, the head of Germany’s new AfD party, just spent a few days in Moscow to build connections with Russian politicians. The AfD party is one of a number of right-wing populist parties that have sprung up in Europe over the last few years. While it is not as well established as France’s National Front party — which is leading in some polls for the forthcoming French presidential election — it has representatives in 10 of 16 German states (this is tough under Germany’s electoral law, which discriminates against small parties through imposing electoral thresholds). Its influence on political debates in Germany is far bigger than its number of elected politicians would suggest. So what is the AfD, and how is it changing German politics?  Read More

Bulgaria: Central Election Commission rejects sole bid to supply voting machines | The Sofia Globe

Bulgaria’s Central Election Commission (CEC) has rejected the sole bid to rent voting machines to it for the March 26 2017 elections, the commission said on February 25. This means that in spite of a Supreme Administrative Court ruling that voting machines should be available at all 12 000 polling stations as an alternative to ballot papers, it is now practically impossible that this ruling will be complied with. A report by a special committee discussed at a commission meeting on Saturday said that the sole company to submit an application to supply the machines could not meet the technical requirements. The CEC had specified that the machines should be delivered by March 10 and the required software should be installed on them by March 17. But the company that submitted the bid proposed delivering the machines only by March 20 because the machines were newly-produced and the software would be installed in the course of production. Read More

France: Is Putin supporting Le Pen to bring about the end of the EU? | Sky News

Russia’s meddling in the US election is well documented. It is now accused of doing the same in France. France is a more important target for Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader abhors the idea of blocs of countries acting together. Multi-national groupings like the EU give their members a combined clout he cannot match leading a country whose economy is no bigger than Italy’s. It makes sense for Mr Putin to seek the break-up of the European Union. His intervention in the US elections helped bring to power a man who championed Brexit and whose rhetoric undermines the EU. Mr Putin knows Marine Le Pen can helped deliver his strategic goals in Europe. The far-right French presidential candidate has threatened to pull France out of the eurozone and a hold referendum on EU membership. Many economists doubt the single European currency can survive the former and predict an ensuing economic catastrophe across Europe. The EU is also unlikely to remain intact if a majority of French people voted for a Frexit. Read More

Germany: Voting rights group decries migrant exclusion | Deutsche Welle

Seven months out from Germany’s September election, Citizens For Europe began its campaign Thursday by concluding that only 2.9 percent of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative parliamentarians had migrant backgrounds. That compared with 21 percent of Germany’s 82 million inhabitants having migratory origins, including people of color. In the Bundestag as a whole, the migrant origin quota was only 5.9 percent, Citizens for Europe (CFE) concluded. In a graphic video focusing first on her Christian Democrats and allied Bavaria Christian Social Union, CFE depicts 9 CDU/CSU parliamentarians with migrant backgrounds, compared to 302 without. And, it asks, how representative is the conservative Bundestag parliamentary group? It’s currently led by CDU whip Volker Kauder, a close aide to Merkel. Further videos on other parties, including the Social Democrats, would follow, said Citizens for Europe, which describes itself as a “non-partisan” group formed in 2010 by committed and young citizens in the EU. Read More

Montenegro: Djukanovic Says Russia Trying To Destabilize Balkans | InSerbia News

Montenegro’s former prime minister accused Russia of seeking to destabilize the Balkans following a thwarted attempt to overthrow Podgorica’s pro-Western government. Milo Djukanovic, who stepped down after an alleged plot emerged on election day in October aimed at preventing the small Balkan country from joining NATO, said that pro-Moscow groups “harnessed a lot of destructive material toward Montenegro” in that coup attempt. Montenegro is now “in the line” of Moscow’s attempts to expand its influence in the Balkans, and pro-Russian opposition parties are ready to use “bloodshed and a coup” to install a pro-Kremlin government, Djukanovic said on February 21 in an address to Socialist Democratic Party youth in Niksic. Read More

Netherlands: Geert Wilders suspends election campaign over alleged security leak | The Guardian

The Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders and his populist Freedom party have suspended all public campaigning for next month’s parliamentary elections following an alleged security leak. Wilders, current frontrunner for the Netherlands’ general elections, to be held on 15 March, said on Twitter: “Very alarming news. The PVV is suspending its public activities until all facts in connection with the corruption investigation are known.” Dutch media reported this week that a member of the far-right politician’s police security team had been arrested on suspicion of leaking details of his whereabouts to a Dutch-Moroccan criminal gang. The Algemeen Dagblad newspaper reported on Thursday that the officer and his brother, both previously members of the Utrecht police force, had also been investigated in the past in connection with suspected leaks of confidential information. Read More

United Kingdom: Election watchdog probes spending by EU referendum campaign groups | The Telegraph

Investigations have been launched into the spending returns of both lead campaigns in last year’s EU referendum, Stronger In and Vote Leave, the Electoral Commission watchdog has announced. New figures reveal that a total of more than £32 million was spent on the campaign, with the Leave side funded by donations totalling £16.4 million outgunning the Remain side’s £15.1 million. The spending returns show that the Brexit battle was the most expensive referendum ever fought in British political history, said the Commission. After its initial inspection of spending returns from both sides, the Commission found that neither Stronger In nor Vote Leave had submitted all the necessary invoices and receipts to back up their accounts. The watchdog also said details of suppliers were missing for some payments. Read More