IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Resolution on Monitoring Forthcoming National Elections
by the IV Forum of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
on Monioring Forthcoming National Elections
proposed by Krzysztof Bobinski, Steering Committee
29 November 2012
The Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership meeting in Stockholm on November 29 and 30, 2012 declares that it intends to pay special attention to monitoring forthcoming national elections in partner states and urges independent civil society organizations to participate in observing these elections as well analysing their results and consequences.
Free and fair elections and the defence of media freedom as well as the fight against corruption are the fundamental processes underpinning reforms in Eastern Partnership countries to which the Civil Society Forum is committed. Governments and parliaments cannot rule effectively and provide security to their citizens without the legitimacy which free and fair elections bring. Governments and parliaments which are appointed as a result of flawed elections, by definition, fail to deliver the underlying social stability and the rule of law which their citizens deserve. Without a free media citizens are deprived of the information they need to make informed choices in elections and corrupt practices deform electoral choices and reduce elections to an auction which destroys the principle of equality of voters.
The elections in the EaP countries which the CSF has observed in 2012 have shown a growing degradation of the electoral process in which rulers, by and large, have failed to rely on the force of their arguments and reached for other means to ensure their continued hold on power. Only in Georgia in 2012 was there a change in government as a result of the elections where the ruling party accepted the verdict of the voters. However, here as elsewhere, pathological behaviour such as the use of government institutions to influence the vote (administrative resources) marred the conduct of the election. Vote buying was a feature of the election in Armenia as it was in Ukraine and in both countries administrative resources were brought to bear on voters to influence their choice. In Belarus the election saw a lack of transparency in the count of the votes and overall questions about the impartiality of the Central Election Commission.
The CSF thanks the many international and domestic election observers as well as international monitoring organizations such as the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) for their crucial work during the elections which helped to check electoral malpractice and reported on transgressions. The CSF would like to underline the key role played in assessment of elections by exit polls which when conducted by honest and experienced polling organizations give a clear indication of real results.
The CSF intends to observe elections in 2013 through its local organizations supported by experts from the whole CSF in such areas as electoral law, election observation, party financing and media monitoring. It will publish reports on the process.
Wherever time and funding permit, the CSF will encourage non-governmental organisations to conduct training sessions for those who want to observe elections and to have such volunteers adopt relevant codes of conduct for international and domestic observers.
The CSF will also work with other organisations tasked with improving electoral procedures such as the Council of Europe as well as monitor and lobby for the implementation of post election recommendations by such organizations as ODIHR.
The CSF notes with interest the initiative for the Establishment of a European Platform for Election Observation.
The CSF declares that the introduction of lessons about democratic procedures for local and national elections as well as human rights into secondary schools in EaP countries would greatly benefit the spread of positive attitudes towards free and fair elections and limit the development of pathologies in this field. The CSF will conduct a study into the existence of such civics classes on these subjects in the EaP countries and will actively advocate the introduction of such classes in those counties where they are not present.