The vote monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Uzbekistan’s parliamentary elections lacked real competition. In a statement on December 22, the head of the limited observation mission sent by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said freedom of expression and association are crucial to conducting free and fair elections. The December 21 elections “were competently administered but lacked genuine electoral competition and debate,” Daan Everts said. “More comprehensive steps are needed to provide voters with real electoral choices,” Everts said. Four parties, all of which support President Islam Karimov, competed for 135 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. The remaining 15 seats will automatically go to the pro-government Ecological Movement.
European election monitors and EU officials have endorsed Ukraine’s new, pro-Western leader, but doubts remain on Russia’s next move. “According to our observers, in 98 percent of the polling stations we observed, the voting was assessed positively,” Tana de Zulueta, a former Italian MP who led the monitoring team, told press in Kiev on Monday (26 May). “We received no reports of any misuse of administrative resources,” she added. Asked by EUobserver if this means a clear thumbs up on Sunday’s election, she said her job is to “observe if voting meets national and international legal standards … overall, we were able to report that this election did meet those standards.” De Zulueta’s election watchdog, the Warsaw-based Odihr, sent 1,200 monitors from 49 countries in its largest ever mission and its first in a country at war. She said she was “shocked” by what pro-Russia gunmen did to stop people voting in eastern Ukraine.
2013 is the second General Election year this will be done. Their presence is by official invitation from the Government of Norway. It is also based on the findings and conclusions of a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM), conducted between 4 to 6 June. The OSCE/ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights)-deployed Election Assessment Mission (EAM) is headed by American Peter Eicher. Other foreign core team members are election analyst Goran Petrov (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), and Lisa Klein, a legal and campaign finance analyst from the UK. Sweden’s David Bismark, a new voting technologies analyist, and Yuri Ozerov (procurement and contracting officer, Russia), make up the final two foreign NAM team members. In particular, the election observers will investigate aspects related to the Internet voting pilot project.
According to the Commission, the 2012 parliamentary elections in Montenegro need to be investigated due to allegations about election irregularities. On 28 February, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neigbourhood policy Štefan Füle met with leader of the Montenegrin opposition party Movement for Changes Nebojsa Medojevic in Brussels. According to the Commission, the main focus of their meeting were the recent publications of audio recordings indicating irregularities in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in 2012 as well as alleged intentions to influence unduly the voters’ list. Mr. Füle commented, “we expect the authorities to fully investigate any allegations in this context and we will continue to monitor this matter closely, notably in the context of the upcoming presidential elections.”
Elections to appoint the House of Representatives in Belarus took place on 23 September 2012. According to the preliminary conclusions of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and their Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) AND OSCE PA* international observers in the country, the elections were not administered in an impartial manner and the complaints and appeals process did not guarantee effective remedy. Furthermore, the preliminary report seems to indicate that the lack of neutrality and impartiality on the part of election commissions severely undermined public confidence in the process, while the lack of proper counting procedures or ways for observers to verify the results raised serious concerns.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE/ODIHR) has officially opened its mission for the observation of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine. “The upcoming elections will be an important challenge for Ukraine from the viewpoint of democracy, and they will be held according to the new law,” the head of the mission, Audrey Glover, said at a press conference in Kyiv on Wednesday. She said that 20 experts from the organization will work in Kyiv, and 90 long-term observers will work all over Ukraine. The ODIHR will employ 600 short-term observers to watch the process of counting votes on the voting day.
The head of the mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Antonio Milošoski stated that the parliamentary campaign in Belarus with the elections to take place literally in a couple of days runs with “the very low level of activity.” According to him, the mission finishes the interim report about the election campaign in Belarus.
The head of the ODIHR mission said that the report will contain information about the legal aspects of the elections, media issues, candidates’ registration and about all the rest that happened during the election campaign, reports BelaPAN. The report will be available for public on September 13th. As Antonio Milošoski noted, at the moment the mission’s representatives are still analyzing the information incoming from the ODIHR long-term observers in the regions. In the near future the information will be systemized and then presented.
Western monitors representing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reaffirmed on Tuesday their cautious assessment of Armenia’s recent parliamentary elections, praising the election campaign but criticizing voting in a “considerable” number of polling stations. In its final report, the largest international vote-monitoring mission deployed in the country by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) again avoided concluding whether the May 6 elections were democratic. “The voting process was orderly and well organized in the large majority of polling stations observed,” says the report. “However, international observers assessed voting negatively in nine per cent of polling stations, which is considerable. This assessment was mainly due to organizational problems, undue interference in the process, generally by proxies, and cases of serious violations, including intimidation of voters.”
Azerbaijan: Opposition considers election code. “If no amendments are made to the Code, there are calls to boycott the 2013 elections.” | Caucasus Elections Watch
The Azerbaijan Public Chamber on June 21st held a round table discussion on the proposed amendments to the Electoral Code of Azerbaijan. About 60 participants attended the public debate which was moderated by Mr. Vidadi Mirkamal, the chairman-in-office for the Coordination Council of the Public Chamber. There was one keynote speaker, Mr. Hafiz Hasanov, an elections expert, who presented his views on the general electoral environment in the country as well as his suggestions for potential amendments, generating further discussion. After the panelists spoke, several party leaders, NGO heads and experts were involved in an interactive discussion that brought forward a wide range of electoral concerns. This included the seven priority recommendations made by the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission following the 2010 Parliamentary Elections that left all major opposition parties without a single seat in the parliament.
Armenia: Local and international observers get ready to monitor parliamentary election | ArmeniaNow.com
Seven international and 47 local organizations will carry out an observation mission at the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe’s (PACE), the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the European Parliament, the CIS Observation Mission and the International Expert Center for Electoral Systems (ICES) are among the international organizations.
Slovenia: Slovenia’s legal framework provides sound basis for democratic elections, some aspects could benefit from further review, says ODIHR final report | OSCE
Slovenia’s early parliamentary polls on 4 December 2011 showed that the legislative framework provided a sound basis for the conduct of democratic elections, although certain aspects could benefit from further review. These are the conclusions of the final report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on 7 February 2012. The report says that the election administration appeared to work efficiently and impartially while a wide selection of registered candidates provided a pluralism of choice for voters. The registration of candidate lists was inclusive and accommodated the appearance of new parties on the political scene. However, the report says that the provision of dual voting rights to citizens belonging to the Italian and Hungarian minorities diverges from the fundamental OSCE commitment regarding the equality of the vote and is at odds with international good practice.
State Duma elections failed to meet democratic standards and were fraught with violations, Europe’s main elections watchdog said in a final assessment published Thursday. The report by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, mentions violations like “serious indications of ballot box-stuffing”, so-called group-voting and obstructions for observers. It also reiterates criticism of United Russia from the organization’s mission chief, Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, that the electoral “contest was slanted in favor of the ruling party.” “The distinction between the state and the governing party was frequently blurred by state and local officials,” said the report’s executive summary.
Russia: Report on Russian Duma elections says contest ‘slanted in favour of the ruling party’ | OSCE/ODIHR
A report released by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on 12 January 2012 said that, although December’s Russian State Duma elections were technically well-administered, the contest was marked by the convergence of the state and the governing party. Citing concerns over the roles played by state authorities and the media, as well as the narrowing of political competition resulting from the denial of registration to certain political parties, the final report of the ODIHR Election Observation Mission describes the contest as “slanted in favour of the ruling party.”
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened a limited observation mission to monitor the 4 December parliamentary elections in Croatia.
ODIHR was invited by Croatia’s government to observe the elections, in line with the country’s commitments as a participating State of the OSCE. The mission is headed by Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens and consists of ten international experts based in Zagreb and six long-term observers to be deployed to the country’s regions.
The mission will assess these elections for compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as national legislation. Observers will follow campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legislative framework, and the resolution of election disputes.
Ukraine: Draft parliamentary election law can be made fairer, say ODIHR and the Venice Commission | ODHIR
Ukraine’s draft law on parliamentary elections could go further to ensure fully democratic elections, says a joint opinion by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.
While the draft law incorporates a number of recommendations previously made by ODIHR and the Venice Commission, the joint opinion notes that the choice of a mixed majority-proportional representation system, the threshold the draft law sets for securing places in parliament, and the ban it establishes on electoral blocs were introduced by the parliamentary majority, and without consultation with other political parties and civil society.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today opened an election assessment mission for the parliamentary elections to be held in Poland on 9 October.
The mission’s deployment follows an invitation from the government of Poland. As a participating State of the OSCE, Poland has committed itself to invite ODIHR to observe its elections.
The mission is led by Julian Peel Yates and consists of six international election experts from six OSCE participating States. The mission will be based in Warsaw but will visit other areas of Poland.
Latvia: Parliamentary vote marked by pluralism and respect for fundamental freedoms, OSCE observers say | ODIHR
Yesterday’s early parliamentary elections in Latvia took place in a democratic and pluralistic environment and were marked by the rule of law, respect of fundamental freedoms, and functioning democratic institutions, observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) concluded in a statement issued today.
“This election has been run professionally and voters were provided a genuine choice between parties offering different platforms,” said Konrad Olszewski, the head of the ODIHR limited election observation mission.
Russia’s top election official said Wednesday that Western election observers are proposing an unacceptably large delegation to monitor parliamentary voting in December, raising the possibility of a standoff like the one that caused the cancellation of an observation mission four years ago.
Vladimir V. Churov, the chairman of Russia’s Central Election Commission, said Russia will approve delegations of between 40 and 100 observers apiece. The election-monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has proposed a mission of 260 observers.
The cancellation of the O.S.C.E. mission in 2007 was the first since Russia undertook to hold free elections in 1990, and followed reports that said the country was falling short of democratic standards.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights today opened a limited election observation mission to monitor the 17 September early parliamentary elections in Latvia.
The mission, headed by Konrad Olszewski, deployed following an invitation from the Latvian authorities. It comprises nine experts, who will be based in Riga, and six long-term observers, who will be deployed to different regions of the country. The mission will assess the elections for their compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as with national legislation.
Elections for the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, are approaching; the vote is scheduled for December. This election differs from previous ones, however, in that the deputies who are elected will remain in office for five years instead of four, as was the case previously. The constitutional majority currently held by the United Russia party, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is also at stake. This majority has formally enabled the party of power to pass legislation without regard for the opinion of other deputies.
So the main question of the December elections is whether the opposition will be able to force United Russia to make room for them in the State Duma. The results of the vote could also affect the March 2012 presidential election, in which Russia’s head of state will for the first time be elected for a six-year term, rather than four-year term.
OSCE is preparing another report on Albania about the political situation in the country, including even the elections, which were held on 8 May of this year.
OSCE Ambassador in Tirana, Eugen Wollfarth will report to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, in early September on political developments in Albania.
After two months and countless debates and legal proceedings, the local elections are finally over, or so it seems. Against all facts and expectations that pointed towards a revote in Tirana, the Electoral College on July 8 confirmed Lulzim Basha as the new mayor of Tirana with 93 votes more than his opponent, Edi Rama.
The Socialist Party, headed by Rama, won the major cities including Tirana, but dubious legal proceedings by the Central Electoral Commission, heavily criticized by OSCE-ODIHR, changed the result—which on May 14, when the counting process in Tirana finished, saw Rama winning by just 10 votes.
There were two main problems in Tirana. One votes were counted that were found in other ballot boxes. Two, in the final result from the Central Electoral Commission there are more votes than voters.
Norway: Election expert team to follow internet voting in Norway | Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deployed an election expert team to Norway on 27 June 2011 to follow a pilot project on new voting technologies (NVT) that was put in place for the forthcoming 12 September municipal elections.
Norway intends to use NVT in 10 municipalities, where voters will be able to vote remotely or via the Internet. Voters will also be given the option of voting using traditional ballots.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), an agency of the the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitored the March 6 2011 parliamentary elections in Estonia and published its report on the elections on Monday. The organisation recommends to supplement and specify the legislation governing e-voting. (Read the Report (PDF)) OSCE also…