Documents

2020

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

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

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

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.