May 28, 2020
The Political Accountability Foundation (PAF) states that the changes to the electoral legal framework prior to the May 10 Presidential election, as well as the National Election Commission's subsequent statement that voting could not take place, give grounds for concern about the quality of Polish election law and the constitutionality of the current situation around the Presidential election. Full statement available here.
May 27, 2020
Armenia was supposed to hold a referendum on April 5, 2020, on whether to replace 7 of its 9 Constitutional Court judges. The referendum was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now seen as too great a risk to public health to go ahead. Instead of terminating the 7 judges immediately, the government is now considering waiving their exemption to the current 12-year term limit and has applied to the Venice Commission for an official Opinion on the modified approach.
May 20, 2020
The CEC has registered 15 groups formed to support the nominations of future presidential candidates. However, it came under attack after it turned down 40 applications, mostly by opposition activists associated with former political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich. The electoral authorities also disqualified critical blogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who was unable to submit his application in person after he was arrested on May 6 and sent to serve 15 days of administrative detention.
COVID-19 and the subsequent state of emergency has halted the process of constitutional amendments to introduce a new mixed electoral system ahead of the 2020 Parliamentary election in Georgia. However, now that the state of emergency has been lifted and some of the opposition leaders have been released, which was an important condition of the opposition to support any constitutional amendments to change the electoral system, amendments should move forward and be adopted soon in order to guarantee that the pre-election campaign can proceed.
Promo-LEX reports that legislative loopholes concerning party finance remain despite amendments to the legal framework and that reporting on party finance to the CEC for 2019 has been at its lowest rate in comparison to 2014-2018. Unreported expenses amount to about 19.02 million lei (975 000 Euro).
EMDS reports that the lockdown regime is continuously being abused by authorities as instances of opposition activists being put under administrative arrest for allegedly breaching lockdown rules continue. 16 people have faced pre-trial detentions and 252 were administratively detained between Mid-May and Mid-April according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Crackdowns on independent voices also continue.
Observers were unable to attend meetings on the establishment of territorial election commissions (TECs), which were livestreamed in response to COVID-19, but were still difficult for observers to monitor due to the poor quality of some of the livestreams. Most TEC nominees represent six pro-government parties and compared to the previous Presidential election the number of opposition representatives in TECs has decreased by 15 times and the ‘success rate’ to be selected has halved.
GNDEM has developed guidance on activities members could consider for elections that are expected to take place during the public health crisis as well as transparency and accountability efforts that could occur in the time elections are postponed. The guidance offers recommendations for domestic election observers on elections occurring during the pandemic and recommendations for actions regarding postponed elections.
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