Growing acceptance for citizen election observers – except in Russia
On 17 September 2019, within the working session on Democratic institutions of the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw, the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) criticized Russia’s harassment of citizen election observation in the country.
According to EPDE, a coalition of 14 independent citizen European election observer organisations, a growing acceptance for citizen election observers both on the national and the international level can be seen in countries of the European Eastern Neighbourhood, such as Georgia, Moldova, Armenia and Ukraine.
“Russia represents a complete outlier in the region, where the electoral law does not include any provisions for direct accreditation of independent citizen observers”
“Recent regional elections in Russia once again show a continuous devaluation of the institution of elections in this country. The space for domestic election observers is considerably limited”.
EPDE Project Coordinator Adam Busuleanu
However, in EPDE’s view, the situation in the Russian Federation is completely different: "Russia represents a complete outlier in the region, where the electoral law does not include any provisions for direct accreditation of independent citizen observers", EPDE Project coordinator Adam Busuleanu stated. "Recent regional elections in Russia once again show a continuous devaluation of the institution of elections in this country. The space for domestic election observers is considerably limited".
According to EPDE, Russian authorities employ three main tools to hinder domestic election monitoring: discrediting campaigns in state controlled media, intimidation and arrests, and finally the isolation of citizen election observers from the outside world: International partner organisations and networks, including EPDE, were listed as "undesirable foreign organisations".
EPDE calls on the Russian authorities, but also the authorities in Azerbaijan and Belarus, to follow their obligations to hold free and transparent elections and to provide unrestricted conditions for domestic election monitoring. EPDE further calls on the Russian government to allow for accreditation for independent domestic observers and to abolish the laws on "foreign agents" and on "undesirable foreign organisations".
One day earlier, on 16 September 2019, EPDE held a side event at the HDIM. The event was devoted to the status and challenges of domestic election observation in the region and included a presentation of EPDE's new study "Citizen Election Observation: Conditions and Remaining Challenges". The study is based on a newly-developed online database, gathering recommendations from citizen observers across Europe.
According to the study, "despite considerable follow-up efforts, both by citizen and international observer organizations, attention to and implementation of recommendations remains insufficient".
Please find the presentation of the side event below.