On Dec. 6 Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect their representatives in high-stakes legislative elections. The vote comes amid international scrutiny over the integrity of the country’s electoral process. The U.S. government, the Organization of American States (OAS) and human rights groups have all called for credible elections. Some in the U.S. media have already indicted the elections’ validity. But these critics ignore the fact that thousands of domestic observers and hundreds of international monitors from the Union of South American Nations and other groups have already signed on to oversee the elections. It is clear that much of the diplomatic posturing is not meant to protect Venezuela’s electoral integrity but to further delegitimize the government of President Nicolás Maduro. No election system is perfect, but Venezuela has one of the most efficient, secure and transparent electoral systems. “The election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” said former President Jimmy Carter in 2012 — praise echoed by other neutral observers.
A team of U.S.-based lawyers who witnessed last month’s Haitian elections say there is mounting evidence showing a clear pattern of systemic fraud, voter confusion and intimidation, and in some areas disenfranchisement. The report paints a grim picture of a flawed, chaotic electoral process on Oct. 25. Not only were voting procedures inconsistently applied at poorly designed polling stations, the report notes, but the widespread use of observer and political party accreditation led to people voting multiple times and potentially accounts for as much as 60 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast. “Without major corrective measures, these elections will represent a significant setback in Haiti’s long-struggle to consolidate democracy,” said the report based on the observations of a delegation of election monitors from the National Lawyers Guild and International Association of Democratic Lawyers Delegation.
Haiti’s voters have spoken. But nobody’s quite sure what they’ve said. Even tentative results of Sunday’s presidential election likely won’t be known for at least 10 days, despite the fact that the election, which involved 54 presidential candidates and tens of thousands of contenders for other races, went unusually smoothly. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won an election. One reason is that it’s against the law for results to be released by anyone other than the Provisional Electoral Council, whose members are replaced every election cycle. “A lot of the learning that is accrued every time they go through an election process seems to be lost,” said Kenneth Merten, Haiti special coordinator for the U.S. State Department and a former U.S. ambassador to the country.
Ivory Coast’s election commission is expected to announce Tuesday the first results from an election that was widely expected to give President Alassane Ouattara another term in office. The commission has already estimated turnout from Sunday’s vote at around 60 percent, though a civil society group put the figure at 53 percent. The opposition National Coalition for Change expressed further doubts about the turnout, saying many Ivorians stayed home and fewer than 20 percent actually voted.
International observers and Haitian human rights groups on Tuesday sharply criticized the country’s violence-marred legislative elections as poorly policed and organized. At least two people were killed during voting Sunday that was disrupted by attacks and other problems that forced the early closure of at least 26 polling centers. Pierre Esperance, executive director of a national network of human rights groups, said the disruptions were a blow to democracy in the impoverished Caribbean nation. “The rights of the Haitian people have been trampled,” he said. The elections, which were four-and-a-half years overdue in a country still struggling from the effects of a devastating 2010 earthquake, were to choose the Chamber of Deputies and two thirds of the Senate.
Venezuela will hold legislative elections on 6 December, election officials announced on Monday after months of mounting pressure from local opposition groups and international observers. The South American country’s laws mandate that national assembly balloting be held this year, but elections officials had delayed setting a date, raising concerns the contest would be cancelled. In her announcement, the elections council head, Tibisay Lucena, said the organisation had always intended to set a date and was not reacting to public pressure.
Venezuela will hold legislative elections Dec. 6, election officials announced Monday after months of mounting pressure from local opposition groups and international observers. The South American country’s laws mandate that National Assembly balloting be held this year, but elections officials had delayed setting a date, raising concerns the contest would be canceled. In her announcement, elections council head Tibisay Lucena said the organization had always intended to set a date and was not reacting to public pressure. “These attacks and phony analyses from national experts and international figures have mostly been very ignorant,” she said. The date is timed to commemorate the first election of the late President Hugo Chavez, who launched the country’s socialist revolution when voters chose him overwhelmingly on Dec. 6, 1998.
With elections rapidly approaching, the Guinean opposition is putting the pedal to the metal in its campaigns for the country’s communal and presidential contests. The last presidential elections in 2010 resulted in a victory for Alpha Condé, who won 52.5 percent of the vote in the second round of the election against former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo.
Election officials worked into the night Monday counting the results from Nigeria’s tight presidential vote, while the U.S. and Britain warned of “disturbing indications” the tally could be subject to political interference. Early returns gave former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari seven states while incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan had five, including the Federal Capital Territory. But results from another 25 states were still to be tallied, and 22 states had not yet delivered their results to the counting center in Abuja, indicating a winner could not be announced before Tuesday. As expected, Buhari swept two major northern states of Kano and Kaduna, delivering crushing defeats to Jonathan there. In Kano, the state with the second-largest number of voters, Buhari had 1.9 million votes to Jonathan’s 216,000.
International observers monitoring the second round of legislative elections in the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros declared the vote free and transparent. Voting held on Sunday on the archipelago took place in an atmosphere of “transparency, freedom and serenity,” Samuel Azu’u Fonkam, head of the observer mission sent by the International Francophonie Organization, told reporters in the capital, Moroni. Municipal elections took place alongside the vote for legislators.