Documents

2020

Election Alert

Polling stations abroad – a controversial and non-transparent process

EPDE
Image source: ipn.md

On November 1, 2020 Moldova will hold the first round of presidential elections. Like in 2016, the final election results will considerably depend on the voting of two groups of constituents – Moldovan diaspora and Moldovan citizens residing in the Transnistrian region. The undue increase of polling stations especially in the Russian Federation, as proposed recently by the Central Election Commission, raises concerns over its independence.

 

Policy Alert

Policy Alert #5 - Armenia’s Stable Majority Constitutional Provisions Under Review

EPDE
Photo: vestnikkavkaza.net

The 2015 Constitution promised that Armenia would move toward a fully proportional parliamentary model. However, a number of other provisions serve to distort the translation of votes to seats in practice. They include provisions for various bonus seats and the exclusion of political parties from campaigning if no government can be formed and a “second round” vote is held. 

 

Local Elections

How to organize local elections during the pandemic

CVU

Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) co-published this report with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on how to organize elections safely during the pandemic with specific recommendations for the local elections in Ukraine.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #7

EPDE
Photo: Viasna

A volunteer coordinator of EPDE’s member organization, the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, as well as her husband were detained yesterday over charges of causing mass riots. Meanwhile, her husband has been released. There is a growing pressure on civil society in the country as authorities' repressions continue. Human rights organizations as well as the European Parliament and UN experts call for a cessation of violence by authorities against protestors and for the release of now over 80 political prisoners in the country.

 

Parliamentary elections

Third interim report of pre-election monitoring

ISFED

According to ISFED, signs of possible vote buying and use of administrative resources during the reporting period continues to be the main challenge of the election environment. ISFED found use of administrative resources in involvement of the ruling party’s majoritarian candidates in events funded by the State and local budgets. It appears that the ruling Georgian Dream party is trying to use all available administrative resources for electoral purposes.

 

Presidential election

2. Interim observation mission report

Promo-LEX

Promo-LEX’s second interim report includes the following key observations: there is an uneven increase in the number of voters, unequal opportunities for potential candidates and for certain categories of voters, unreported campaign expenses amounting to at least MDL 735,021 (37,456 EURO), and contestants taking credit for activities funded by public money. The live broadcast of the press conference presenting this report is available with English interpretation here.

 

Election alert

Election Alert #6 - Trend against established parties. Candidates under undue pressure.

EPDE
Photo: dw.com

Last weekend’s regional and local elections in Russia represented a final rehearsal ahead of next year’s federal parliamentary elections. This was also the last election to be managed by the acting composition of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) and its chairperson, Ella Pamfilova, whose term in office is to expire in March next year. According to independent election observers, the elections displayed two strongly conflicting trends.

 

Election alert

Election Alert #5 - Unlevel playing field in regional and local elections

EPDE
Photo: news.sky.com

The regional and local elections scheduled on 13 September 2020 are to be the first major electoral campaign in Russia to take place following the passing of the Constitutional amendments and the introduction of the epidemiological restrictions. A total of 9071 campaigns are taking place incl. State Duma by-elections in four districts, elections of 18 regional heads (governors), 11 regional parliaments and 22 city councils in administrative centres. More than 78 thousand deputy mandates and elected positions are to be filled.

 

Local & regional elections

Pre-election campaign Russia Single Voting Day 2020

EPDE
Photo: edition.cnn.com

During the election campaign period, a level playing field for candidates has not been secured. Candidates who were supported by the authorities could also count on support from local authorities, courts, and electoral authorities and often did not have to face the restrictions associated with the Covid 19 pandemic when conducting their campaigns. State controlled media dominated the public sphere and manipulated public opinion in the mass media by obstructing opposition candidates and creating advantages for "administrative" candidates.

 

Local & regional elections

Legal aspects of the 13th September Russian Single Voting Day 2020

EPDE
Photo: edition.cnn.com

Analyzing the legal framework of the elections, domestic election experts conclude that the current legal conditions are the worst in the last 25 years. Recent changes to the electoral law on the federal level as well as short-term amendments to the regional election campaign regulations have been introduced to further restrict the electoral rights of citizens, limit the opportunities for citizen election observers and the overall public control over elections.

 

Local & regional elections

Summary of the nomination and registration of candidates for the 13th September 2020 elections

EPDE
Photo: edition.cnn.com

The analysis of the process of candidates’ registration in self-government elections shows an unproportionally high dropout rate of opposition candidates. In the main elections to regional parliaments and councils, parties supported by the authorities could nominate 98 % of their candidates, self-nominated candidates could register in over 60 % of cases, and parties without „administrative support” were rejected in almost 90% of cases.

 

Local & regional elections

Briefly about the course of the candidate registration SVD 2020

EPDE
Photo: edition.cnn.com

The main features of the 18 gubernatorial races held on the Single Voting Day were the restricted access for opposition candidates to the elections and the replacement of promising candidates by “technical” sparring-partners nominated by new “technical” parties which have been created with strong support of the authorities. Even candidates of parliamentary parties were massively excluded from gubernatorial elections, while candidates with low approval ratings from “United Russia” began to run as self-nominated candidates.

 

Local Elections

1. Interim observation mission report

OPORA

Opora issued their first interim report of the pre-election campaign period for the local elections. Officially, election campaigning began 05 September, however, political parties, their local organizations, and potential candidates de facto already launched their active campaigning in August. This stage of early campaigning is unregulated by any electoral legal framework and there are no controls over campaign spending. The uncontrolled spending on political ads on social media is also a concern highlighted in the report available on OPORA's website here.

 

Presidential election

1. Interim observation mission report

Promo-LEX

Promo-LEX issued its first election observation report for the presidential election, which will be held on 1 November 2020. They report the following during the pre-election period - party switching, especially within parliamentary parties, indicating a lack of an institutionalized party system; a lack of a stable and constant parliamentary majority; a noticeable impact of the pandemic on the effectiveness of governmental policies; geopolitical issues feature in the electoral agenda.

 

EPDE Alert

EPDE calls for authorities to refrain from interfering in the activities of the CEC ahead of local elections

EPDE
Image source: RBK-Ukraine

In recent days there have been reports that officials from the President's Office in Ukraine insisted that members of the Central Election Commission resign. EPDE, OPORA, and CVU are concerned about such efforts by the President’s Office to threaten CEC members and interfere with the work of the CEC and call on authorities to refrain from exerting pressure on the CEC and ensure the independent and effective working of election management bodies.

 

Parliamentary elections

Second interim report of pre-election monitoring

ISFED

ISFED identified 8 cases of alleged vote buying; cases of dismissal based on possible political motive in 5 municipalities; 5 cases of intimidation/harassment based on possible political motive; 2 cases of possible use of administrative resources; 2 cases of withholding social assistance based on possible political discrimination; 1 case of intimidation of ISFED observer; 1 case of interference in political activities and in pre-election campaigning by the Church; and 1 case of creating obstacles for registration of a political party.

 

Presidential Election

Preliminary report on the presidential election

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

The Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections state in their preliminary report on the conduct of the presidential election that the electoral process at all of its stages did not comply with a number of basic international standards for democratic and fair elections and was accompanied by numerous violations of these principles and requirements of national legislation. Full report now available.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #6

EPDE
Photo: www.newsabc.net

Following the presidential election on August 9 and the declaration of Lukashenka's victory, protests broke out across Belarus. They were dispersed violently by law enforcement agencies, resulting in numerous injuries, at least one casualty, and thousands of arrests. In this post-election edition Election Alert, we share the preliminary report and post E-Day statements of the Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections and of other election monitors and experts.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - early voting

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

From the first days of early voting, observers from various civic initiatives faced obstacles from PEC members and police officers. Numerous observers were removed from polling stations, deprived of accreditation, and even detained. The restrictions imposed by the CEC on the number of observers at polling stations during early voting made this electoral phase completely non-transparent for independent citizen observation. These restrictions were aimed at disrupting independent observation of this stage, rather than pursuing the declared medical safety measures in connection with the pandemic.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #5

EPDE
Photo: Sergei Gapon / AFP

On August 9, 2020, presidential elections take place in Belarus, in which the incumbent Aleksander Lukashenka is standing for the sixth time. Early voting took place from August 4 to August 8. Election observers complain about criminal and administrative prosecution of opposition politicians and their supporters, pressure on voters to cast their votes ahead of time and the massive restrictions on independent election observation.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - election campaigning

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

In their latest report Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections state that the election campaign took place in unequal conditions. By abandoning official campaigning, the incumbent made an extensive use of the administrative and propaganda resources of the power vertical, pro-government NGOs and the media. Moreover, the incentive measures taken on the initiative of the incumbent, including an increase in pension rates and their early payment, were in essence bribery of voters and manifestations of the use of administrative resources.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - accreditation of observers and the start of early voting observation

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

On August 4, early voting in the presidential election was launched to continue until August 8. According to “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections”, most pro-government observers were registered immediately after the formation of the PECs in June. As a result, only observers from pro-government organisations and political parties will observe the election, administered by the election commissions, which mostly consist of the members representing the same organisations.

 

Presidential Election

Television & Social Media Media Monitoring - Interim report

MEMO98

President Lukashenko has tried to play down the upcoming election as an unnecessary distraction from business, but an active social media movement has shown that the public is no longer prepared to go along with an alternate reality. Here you can read the findings of the interim report, produced by MEMO 98, EAST Center and Linking Media, which examines media and social media in Belarus from the end of April until 23rd June.

 

Parliamentary elections

2020 Parliamentary elections - first interim report of pre-election monitoring

ISFED

During the reporting period, ISFED identified 19 cases of possible vote buying, including 16 by majoritarian members of the Georgian Parliament and 3 by the Movement for Future, 2 cases of possible use of state resources, 1 case of exerting pressure on ISFED observer, 2 cases of interference in political activities and one case of political pressure/intimidation.

 

Parliamentary elections

Evaluation of the pre-election environment for the 2020 Parliamentary elections

ISFED

This report evaluates the political and media landscape in the country ahead of the 2020 Parliamentary elections. Although the adoption of constitutional amendments on the electoral system avoided further tension and protests, political polarization remains as a challenge. The media environment, as well as political environment, is very polarized and continues to face challenges related to media freedom and pluralism. It is likely that these factors will also influence pre-election campaigning.

 

EPDE Publication

Dossier: Impact of COVID-19 on election processes in the EaP and Russia

EPDE

COVID-19 spread rapidly across the world in early 2020, with most governments instituting far-reaching pandemic mitigation measures, including nationwide lockdowns. This dossier compares the lockdown regimes and extraordinary measures taken in response to COVID-19 and how these have impacted election processes in the Eastern Partnership countries and the Russian Federation.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - nomination and signature collection phase

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections (HRDs) stated in their latest report on the entire nomination and signature collection phase of the election campaign that this was marred by serious violations of the standards of free and democratic elections. The nomination groups of some candidates were subjected to significant pressure from law enforcement agencies and the verification of signatures by the Central Election Commission (CEC) was not transparent.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #4

EPDE

The CEC has declined to register Viktar Babaryka and Valery Tsapkala, making two of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s key rivals ineligible to run for President. Following this decision, protests broke out across Belarus which were accompanied by a wave of arrests. Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections (HRDs), now the only independent observers of this election, report on this and the entire nomination and registration phase of the election campaign.

 

Election Alert

Amendments to election law risk undermining conduct of free and fair elections

CALC

A draft law to amend electoral legislation, which election experts and observers have criticised for including provisions that could restrict both voter rights and activities of election observers, is likely to be adopted at breakneck speed, barely a month passing between its registration and likely adoption during its second reading in parliament this week.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #3

EPDE
Source: tellerreport.com

The Central Election Commission has until 14 July to complete the registration process of candidates for the presidential race. Observers from the "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections" campaign report that further measures were taken to disadvantage rival candidates in recent days: locations where election activities can lawfully take place have been restricted, further members of campaign teams have been detained, and nearly all opposition nominees to PECs were blocked.

 

EPDE Publication

European politicians to legitimize constitutional changes in Russia

EPDE

Kremlin-friendly foreign politicians, journalists, lobbyists and activists have once again been invited to praise the disputed “all-Russian voting” on the constitutional amendments proposed by President Putin. The main motivation behind inviting foreign politically biased observers to the “voting”, which has no basis in Russian legislation, is to provide a semblance of international legitimacy to constitutional amendments that have already been approved by the Russian parliament.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - formation of precinct election commissions

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

On June 24 authorities completed the formation of Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) which are an important element of the electoral process directly engaged in the administration of voting and counting of votes. Observers note that the formation of PECs clearly discriminated against representatives of opposition parties: 1.1% of the total number of elected nominees are from opposition parties while 96.7% are from pro-government parties.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #2

EPDE
Source: tut.by

Lukashenka attempts to eliminate his competition. The end of the signature collection phase for contenders seeking to be nominated as a Presidential candidate was accompanied by a wave of further detentions of candidates last week. Presidential election being held “in an atmosphere of fear, constant threats and intimidation” - Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - end of signature collection and further arrests of candidates

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

The end of the signature collection phase for contenders seeking to be nominated as a Presidential candidate was accompanied by a wave of further detentions, this time targeting the perhaps most popular participant of the election, ex-banker Viktar Babaryka. Observers also report on abuse of administrative resources in Lukashenka's campaign and that TECs have refused observers to observe signature verification procedures.

 

Presidential Election

Belarus Election Alert #1

EPDE
Source: rferl.org

The Belarusian Presidential election is gearing up to be an exciting race with mass public engagement and protests across the country against the incumbent President. EPDE cooperates with the joint election observation campaign, the "Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections". Until the election day on August 9, EPDE will share reports from this observation campaign along with information from other sources in biweekly Election Alerts to inform you about the ongoing election campaign.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - mass arrests and detentions of opposition activists

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

In this weekly report, observers from HRDFE report that mass arrests and detentions of opposition activists, including members of Tsikhanouskaya’s nomination group, took place in different cities of the country during the week. Observers also note that the CEC interpreted electoral law selectively in the favor of certain candidates, e.g. complaints filed against Lukashenka’s nomination group for abuse of administrative resources in the collection of his signatures were rejected.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly Report - crackdowns and discrimination against opposition

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

This week's observation report states that this year's campaign is marked by an increase in election-related protests, triggered also by public discontent over the handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Crackdowns and provocations by authorities against activists and members of other candidates' nomination groups have continued, and observers report an abuse of administrative resources in collecting signatures in support of incumbent President Lukashenka. 

 

Policy Alert

Georgia’s electoral system agreement should be implemented without further delay

ISFED
Image: Thiago B Trevisan/Shutterstock

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.

 

Policy Alert

Armenia explores alternative to referendum on Constitutional Court

EPDE
Photo: massispost.com

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.

 

Presidential Election

Report on the formation of territorial election commissions

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

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.

 

Presidential Election

Report on the registration of nomination groups

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

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. Well-known blogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski, was arrested and thus deprived of the opportunity to apply for the registration of his nomination group.

 

Presidential Election

Weekly report: Human rights situation deteriorating ahed of election

Belarusian Helsinki Committee / Human Rights Center "Viasna"

The Presidential election is scheduled for August 9 in Belarus and so far, authorities have ignored proposals to amend electoral procedures to minimize risks relating to COVID-19. Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections found that basic civil and political freedoms are hampered by significant legislative restrictions and report that the general human rights situation has deteriorated shortly before the election.

 

Policy Alert

Armenia to expand proportional representation to municipal elections with tri-partisan bill

EPDE
Photo: emerging-europe.com

MPs from all three parliamentary factions have sponsored a bill that seeks to change how municipal councils and mayors are elected. Specifically, mayors in the largest cities and towns will no longer be directly elected but chosen by city councils, who will also be given the power to remove them mid-term. The closed party list proportional representation system used in the three largest cities in Armenia would be expanded to all communities with more than 4000 registered voters.

 

Policy Alert

High-speed changes to electoral law disregard international norms

EPDE
Photo: Arkadiusz Stankiewicz/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

A new draft law has been approved that provides for postal voting to be the only means for all eligible citizens to cast their vote and will replace existing electoral commissions with new ones. Experts indicate that the bill contains loopholes, inconsistencies, and legislative errors. Conducting presidential elections on its basis would not meet a number of democratic standards and would violate the universality, integrity, and secrecy of the vote.

 

Policy Alert

An early balance of emergency measures

EPDE
Hungary
Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty images

In response to COVID-19, the Orbán-government has introduced measures that are neither temporary nor proportional. In this analysis, election expert Zsuzsanna Végh argues that the government is using the pandemic as a distraction to further introduce restrictions on democratic rights and freedoms in Hungary.

 

Policy Alert

Changes to Armenia’s Political Party Regulation: toward more transparent party financing

EPDE
Photo: gmfus.com

Prior to the COVID-19 state of emergency disrupting ongoing reform processes and the scheduled constitutional referendum, a new law on political parties was supposed to be amended and passed by June 2020. Most of the new provisions were welcomed by international experts. The draft law includes provisions that would make state funding for parties contingent on their adherence to stricter transparency rules on party finances and a 40% gender quota.

 

Parliamentary by-elections

Final observation mission report on parliamentary by-elections

Promo-LEX

PromoLex notes in its final report on the by-elections in Hincesti raion that there are still several legislative gaps that must be addressed concerning the need for clear regulation of indirect campaign financing by parties not registered to compete in this election. PromoLex also reports on procedural errors in the consideration and resolution of complaints by the CEC.

 

Election alert

Election Alert #4 - How corona thwarts Putin's plan to change the constitution

EPDE
Photo: dw.com

The pandemic has interrupted Putin’s fast-track constitutional amendment project that would have allowed him to stay in power beyond 2024. An understanding that his popular support may be waning was likely behind the haste. What started as a fail-proof political project is now an uncertain race against a natural calamity. Whenever the vote will take place it will be happening in a post-crisis Russia and the government’s effectiveness in fighting the pandemic will surely be factored into the voters’ decisions.

 

EPDE Publication

Problematic International Observation of the Azerbaijani 2020 Parliamentary Elections

EPDE

In this latest EPDE report, Anton Shekhovtsov investigates how politically biased international election observers were used by Azerbaijani authorities to relativize critical findings of the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) to the early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.

 

EPDE Publication

Fake election observation as Russia's tool of election interference: The Case of AFRIC

EPDE

In this report, Anton Shekhovtsov analyzes how the structures of "Putin's Chef" Yevgeniy Prigozhin interfere in electoral processes in African countries with the help of fake election observation. This report focuses on the Association for Free Research and International Cooperation (AFRIC), an organization that Shekhovtsov has previously investigated and found to be involved in politically biased election observation and pro-Kremlin efforts, and is linked to Prigozhin. 

 

Election alert

Russia election alert #3

EPDE
Photo: dw.com

On January 20, 2020, the president of Russia submitted to the State Duma a draft law on amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. To pass these amendments, authorities have also proposed to call an "all-Russian vote". These attempts to amend the constitution by calling such a vote instead of through existing legal procedures like a referendum raise serious concerns among Russian election experts about the legality of the constitutional change.

 

Early Parliamentary Elections

Preliminary report on 9 February 2020 early Parliamentary Elections

EMDS

EMDS recorded similar violations on E-Day that have occurred in previous elections - one person voting multiple times, bussing of voters, ballot-box stuffing, and voting without registration. These violations were widespread and deliberate. Turnout figures counted by observers were significantly lower than the figures the CEC officially released on their website throughout E-Day. EMDS believes that violations recorded during all stages of these elections made it impossible for the elections to be fair and free.

 

Early Parliamentary Elections

2nd Interim report of 9 February 2020 early Parliamentary Elections

EMDS

EMDS notes that there have been cases of pressure against civil society, political activists, candidates, and their relatives in both stages of the Parliamentary elections. The government failed to demonstrate any political will to release more than 100 people who are in jail with politically motivated charges as a result of increased political repression over the last few years.

 

Early Parliamentary Elections

Interim report of 9 February 2020 early Parliamentary Elections

EMDS
(Parliament of Azerbaijan) Source: European Parliament, Flickr

EMDS observed during its LTO that restrictions on political freedoms and the freedom of speech continue ahead of the 9 February 2020 early Parliamentary Elections and that the current Election Code does not provide for a genuine competitive environment. Numerous violations concerning the nomination and registration of candidates, predominantly against opposition candidates, were also observed.