The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) parliamentarians will travel to Turkey next week to observe the upcoming presidential elections and provide leadership for the OSCE’s short-term observer mission, the group announced on Tuesday. The OSCE delegation, which includes more than 20 parliamentarians from 15 participating OSCE states, will be led by Asa Lindestam, chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s General Committee on Political Affairs and Security. On Aug. 10, for the first time voters will go to polling stations to elect the next president by popular vote. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a second round will be held for the two top candidates on Aug. 24.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) issued a report on the Georgian presidential elections held in 2013. The report also included some recommendations. PACE special commission established that the presidential elections held on October 27, 2013 “were held effectively, transparently and conducted in a peaceful and constructive atmosphere. Fundamental rights of expression, movement and assembly were protected and the candidates were able to conduct their election campaigns without restrictions. Just a year after the parliamentary elections, Georgian citizens have once again demonstrated their political maturity in a peaceful atmosphere through the election administration. These elections are an important achievement for the country and the entire South Caucasus”.
Bulgaria: Elections competitive and well run, but trust in process is lacking, international observers say | Panorama
Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections on 12 May were held in a competitive environment, fundamental freedoms were respected, and the administration of elections was well managed, although the campaign was overshadowed by a number of incidents that diminished trust in state institutions and the process was negatively affected by pervasive allegations of vote-buying, international observers said in a statement today, according to the OSCE PA. The campaign was competitive and generally free of violence, and the caretaker government undertook several measures to hold genuine elections. Cases of pre-election wiretapping and concerns over last-minute incidents related to ballot security, however, weakened public confidence in the process. The campaign was at times negative, with some parties using inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric. Allegations of vote-buying continued, negatively affecting the campaign environment, the international observers noted.
Armenians have begun voting in presidential elections already marred by the shooting of an opposition candidate and the lack of any prominent alternative to incumbent Serzh Sarksyan. The government is hoping for a peaceful election that will improve the country’s prospects of European integration, after the disputed presidential elections that brought Sarksyan to power in 2008 ended in clashes in which 10 people died. Sarksyan has called for the elections to be “exemplary” and stressed that Armenia has “no future” if its polls cannot correspond to European standards. Most opinion polls give Sarksyan a strong lead and the fractured opposition forces have failed to find a common challenger to the incumbent leader. … International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe will monitor voting, which was scheduled to end at 1600 GMT.
Serbia’s ruling Democratic Party asked local and foreign watchdogs to step up scrutiny of the presidential runoff vote after the opposition claimed election fraud during May 6 balloting. The party, led by incumbent President Boris Tadic, urged the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Belgrade-based Center for Free Elections and Democracy to deploy more observers during the May 20 second round between Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic, the leader of the opposition Serbian Progressive Party. “It is in our deep interest that we have fair and regular elections and that the legitimacy of elected institutions is not in question,” the Democrats said in the e-mailed statement. The outcome of the presidential elections may determine whether Serbia keeps striving for European Union membership under Tadic or turns east for political and economic ties under Nikolic’s leadership. Tadic won the first round, while his party finished second in a concurrent parliamentary race, giving it six seats less than the Progressive Party’s 73 in the 250-member assembly. The Progressive Party claimed vote rigging on May 10, a day after the second-place Democrats and the third-ranking Socialist Party of former strongman Slobodan Milosevic agreed to stay in a coalition, leaving Nikolic’s party in opposition.
Because of a failure to address wide disparity between single-mandate, majoritarian constituencies resulting in unequal weight of each vote, Georgia’s “new election system is not fully in line with European standards,” two co-rapporteurs from Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said in their report to the PACE’s monitoring committee. The information note, which has been drawn up mainly based on co-rapporteurs’ fact-finding visit to Georgia in October, was released on January 26 and focuses on administration of justice and election-related issues. Kastriot Islami and Michael Jensen, co-rapporteurs on honouring obligations by Georgia, welcome in the report the Georgian authorities’ decision to adopt new election code, as well as addressing in the new code a number of recommendations made by the Council of Europe’s advisory body for legal affairs Venice Commission. The report, however, notes it was “regrettable that no consensus could be reached on the new election code and especially on the election system by which the new parliament is to be elected.”