The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)’s newest study has found that there is a lack of implementation by national law-makers on recommendations for electoral reform made by citizen election observers in the Eastern Neighborhood. EPDE also launched an online Catalogue of Recommendations on Electoral Reform, a unique database which contains and assesses over 490 recommendations formulated since 2012 by citizen election observation organizations from countries of the EU-Eastern Partnership and the Russian Federation.
“Insufficient follow-up on recommendations of citizen election observers appears to stem rather from the lack of political will of governments to fulfill the international obligations and to engage in a dialogue with civil society organizations”, says Tatyana Hilscher-Bogussevich, election expert and author of EPDE’s first comparative analysis of recommendations related to the conditions for citizen election observation in the EU-Eastern Neighborhood.
“Russia ranks the worst since there are no legal provisions allowing for civil society to be directly accredited as election observers”, says Hilscher-Bogussevich. There is a similarly restrictive environment in Azerbaijan and Belarus, where independent observers’ organizations struggle to be registered. “In those three countries civil society faces increasing intimidation and harassment by authorities and there is a shrinking space for independent civil society”, stresses Hilscher-Bogussevich.
Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia rank better and generally facilitate citizen observation, however issues still remain, including inefficient and complicated accreditation procedures or unequal treatment of domestic and international observers in granting them access to election procedures.
“The EU must increase its dialogue with civil society of the Eastern Neighborhood and make follow-up on recommendations of citizen observers an integral aspect in their relations with governments of these countries in order to support ongoing reform processes in the region”, states Stefanie Schiffer, EPDE Chair of Board. ”Environment needs to be created, in which citizen observers are seen as partners, not as opponents, and in which interest in alternative opinions prevails in relationships with the civil society.”
The EPDE’s Catalogue of Recommendations on Electoral Reform is the first database of its kind bringing reports from multiple citizen observer organizations together to highlight the need for more attention to and implementation of recommendations for electoral reforms made by citizen election observers.
The database was launched at the OSCE’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw this year and is currently available as a beta version under the following link.
The comparative analysis on the conditions for citizen election observation in the EU-Eastern Neighborhood is available online here.