Observing the vote

Map of the world, with countries in which the European Parliament has observed elections highlighted in blue
Click on the map to see where Parliament has observed elections.
The DEG has an official consultative role for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) when the HR/VP selects priority countries for EU election observation missions and when it appoints of chief observers for those missions. Every EU election observation mission is headed by an MEP.

The European Parliament sends 10-12 short-term election observation delegations to countries outside the EU every year. These delegations rejoin ongoing, longer-term missions, which are deployed only when requested by local authorities.

These long-term missions are either:
  • European Union election observation missions (EU EOMs) in Africa, the Americas or Asia, or
  • international election observation missions (IEOMs) led by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in countries that are members of Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In this case, the European Parliament's delegation joins forces with delegations from parliamentary assemblies, such as those of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and NATO.
Parliament's participation adds political clout to the long-term missions. MEPs' experience as elected representatives also enriches the evaluation of local electoral processes.

2019 election observation missions

In the first half of 2019 the European Parliament will observe elections in Nigeria, Moldova, Senegal and Ukraine.

Senegal presidential elections, 24 February 2019

Tallying the votes in Senegal © European Union (2019) - European Parliament

Le Parlement européen a observé l'élection présidentielle du 24 février 2019 au Sénégal, en envoyant une délégation de cinq membres.

Cette élection était une étape importante dans le processus démocratique sénégalais déjà mature. En effet, le pays connait depuis de nombreuses décennies une vraie stabilité institutionnelle qui permet l'alternance pacifique et consensuelle du pouvoir. Malgré quelques craintes lors de la campagne électorale, la violence a heureusement été contenue et seulement sporadique, les principaux candidats, soutenus en ce sens par la communauté internationale, ayant fait preuve de retenue et d'apaisement.

L'une des questions centrales, apparue au fil de la campagne, est la nécessaire attention à l'égard du dialogue entre majorité et opposition. En effet, le dialogue et la recherche du consensus étant constitutifs de la démocratie sénégalaise, les écarts observés par rapport à la pratique doivent être surmontés. Dans la mise en œuvre du système de parrainage citoyen, la création de nouveaux bureaux de vote ou l'engagement partial de certaines autorités en faveur d'un candidat, l'opposition et la société civile ont pointé ou dénoncé un trop fort déséquilibre en faveur du candidat de la majorité.

Tant le Parlement européen que la délégation de l'UE à Dakar se sont engagés à œuvrer en ce sens en soutenant toutes les initiatives de dialogue national.

Moldova parliamentary elections, 24 February 2019

Nigeria general elections, 16 February 2019

Ukraine presidential elections, 31 March 2019 & 21 April 2019

2018 election observation missions

The European Parliament observed elections in El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Montenegro, Paraguay, Tunisia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Madagascar and Armenia in 2018.

Armenia parliamentary elections, 9 December 2018

EU election observers in Armenia © European Union, (2018) - European Parliament

The European Parliament observed Armenia's early parliamentary elections, held on 9 December 2018, with a six-member delegation headed by Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE, Finland). This team contributed to the longer-term international election observation mission led by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Backdrop

Following a political crisis in October, the National Assembly was dissolved on 1 November and snap elections were announced for 9 December 2018. Therefore, limited time was available for parties to campaign and for the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to organise the elections.

Evaluation

The overall assessment of the elections by the European Parliament was that the elections were very well organized, with minimal irregularities and free of pressure on voters. The observers reported a major drop in electoral malpractice, which is seen as a positive impact of legal amendments, educational campaigns and resolve of key leaders.

The CEC conducted its work professionally and transparently, met all legal deadlines and conducted a comprehensive voter education campaign. The CEC and its territorial commissions enjoyed general confidence.

Electoral campaigns and the election itself proceeded freely, observing the fundamental freedoms and enjoying broad public trust. The EP delegation stressed the positive conduct of voting, counting and tabulation. Media also contributed to the diversity of information on the elections.

The EP delegation also commended civil society engagement, which for the first time agreed with representatives of authorities and most political parties on the electoral process.

However, issues with campaign financing were noted, as some candidates confirmed the direct self-financing of their campaigns. Other concerns included citizenship requirements, management of voters' lists and women's political participation.

In summary, the EP delegation stressed that the absence of electoral malfeasance, including such issues as vote buying and pressure on voters, allowed for genuine competition.

Madagascar presidential elections, 7 November & 19 December 2018

Georgia presidential elections, 28 October & 28 November 2018

Bosnia and Herzegovina general elections, 7 October 2018

Zimbabwe general elections, 30 July 2018

Pakistan parliamentary elections, 25 July 2018

Lebanon parliamentary elections, 6 May 2018

Tunisia municipal elections, 6 May 2018

Paraguay general elections, 22 April 2018

Montenegro presidential elections, 15 April 2018

Sierra Leone general elections, 7 March 2018

El Salvador parliamentary and local elections, 4 March 2018

2017 election observation missions

The European Parliament observed elections in Albania, Armenia, Gambia, Honduras, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal and Timor Leste in 2017.

Nepal parliamentary and provincial elections, 26 November 2017 & 7 December 2017

Open-air polling place in Nepal © European Union (2017) - European Parliament

The European Parliament observed both stages of elections to Nepal's House of Representatives and provincial assemblies, which were held on 26 November and 7 December 2017.

Parliament's presence was a further sign of its commitment to the process of democratic consolidation in Nepal, following the country's civil war in the early 2000s. MEPs had also observed elections in 2008 and 2013.

The 2017 delegation was headed by Neena Gill (S&D, UK) and was integrated into the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM), led by Zeljana Zovko (EPP, Croatia).

A milestone ballot

The 2017 elections to the House of Representatives and the provincial assemblies represented a key milestone in the implementation of the country's 2015 Constitution.

Turnout on the two Election Days showed that voters had not been deterred by the acts of violence by fringe militants seeking to interrupt the electoral process.

Shortcomings

At least half a million people (election officials and security personnel on election duties) were denied an opportunity to vote.

Around 170 000 people who turned 18 between the registration deadline and the Election Days were not permitted to register. While real efforts were made to educate voters, the result was inadequate.

Observers faced restrictions in accessing some polling and counting centres.

Honduras general elections, 26 November 2017

Kyrgyzstan presidential elections, 15 October 2017

Kenya general elections, 8 August 2017

East Timor parliamentary elections, 22 July 2017, and presidential elections, 20 March 2017

Mongolia presidential elections, 26 June 2017

Albania parliamentary elections, 25 June 2017

Kosovo parliamentary elections, 11 June 2017

The Gambia parliamentary elections, 6 April 2017

Armenia parliamentary elections, 2 April 2017

1994-2016 election observation missions

The European Parliament observed more than 200 elections in this period.

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