IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Free elections to be flagship priority for Civil Society Forum
Democratic legitimacy is the basis of good government. Reform is impossible without fair democratic procedures as reforms will not succeed unless they are introduced by fairly elected legislatures and governments. The Eastern Partnership programme, of which the Civil Society Forum (CSF) is a part, advocates reforms aimed at having partner countries base their political systems on the principles of democracy, a market economy, and the rule of law. None of this can be achieved without free and fair elections.
The Steering Committee of the CSF elected in Poznan in November 2011 has agreed that the subject of elections as well as the fight against corruption and the struggle for a free media should be flagship issues for the CSF. These three subjects will enjoy special prominence at the CSF annual meeting in November 2012. Free elections and the development of a pluralistic political system are impossible without a free media.
This year will see such elections in four of the six Eastern Partnership Countries – Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine.
The CSF Steering Committee has issued a letter (downloadable here), calling on its members and other independent organisations to draw up reports on how far the elections adhered to democratic standards.
A workshop on elections in the four countries will take place in Brussels on 6 June 2012 on the fringe of the CSF working group 1 (Democracy, human rights, good governance and stability) meeting. Observations and conclusions from meetings in the Partner countries will be brought together at a special session that will examine the differences and similarities in the four elections and draw conclusions at the CSF on 29-30 November 2012. The session would also look forward to elections due to take place in 2013, and make recommendations on shaping future EU support to civil society and public administration and identify continuing obstacles to the conduct of free and fair elections.