Election observation

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 2019 the European Parliament observed elections in Nigeria, Moldova, Senegal, Ukraine, Tunisia, Kosovo, Mozambique and Sri Lanka.

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.
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    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.

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    Les deux tours de l'élection présidentielle de novembre et décembre 2018 ont été observés par une délégation du Parlement européen.

    Ce scrutin était crucial pour la consolidation démocratique du pays après la longue période de transition des années 2009-2013, et symbolique car il mettait notamment en lice les deux principaux protagonistes de la crise de 2009. Parmi les 36 candidats autorisés à concourir, 4 étaient ainsi d'anciens chefs de l'Etat.

    Les enseignements de ce scrutin sont nombreux, tant pour les malgaches que pour les observateurs européens et internationaux. En premier lieu, le scrutin, bien maîtrisé et transparent, s'est déroulé dans le calme. Si l'identification des électeurs sur les listes électorales révisées et la distribution des cartes d'électeur ont été perçus comme insatisfaisants lors du 1er tour, les autorités compétentes ont su apporté les changements nécessaires pour le 2nd tour. Cette amélioration est notable et doit être soulignée.

    Les deux tours ont aussi été marqués par diverses accusations de fraudes mais très peu de preuves ont en fin de compte été avancées par les différents candidats pour les étayer, et n'ont pas entaché le jugement positif du scrutin par les observateurs.

    L'un des points saillants relevés par la délégation du Parlement européen est l'absence de plafonnement et de contrôle des frais de campagne, ce qui a donné lieu - notamment dans le cadre du 1er tour - à des dépenses largement excessives, et sans aucune commune mesure avec le développement socio-économique du pays. Cette absence de réglementation est d'autant plus dommageable qu'elle avait déjà été vivement recommandée par la mission d'observation électorale de l'Union européenne à la suite des élections présidentielles de 2013.

    L'une des missions de l'Union européenne et du Parlement européen sera de veiller à ce que cette recommandation, cruciale pour le développement durable de la démocratie au Madagascar, soit mise en œuvre par les autorités.

  • Two election observers from the European Parliament stand in the corner of a school room in Georgia and take notes on the ballot
    European Parliament observers in Georgia © European Union (2018) - European Parliament

    The European Parliament observed both rounds of Georgia's presidential elections, held on 28 October and 28 November 2018. This work contributed to the longer-term international election observation mission led by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

    Georgia is a priority country for the European Parliament's democracy support programme, and a delegation from the Parliament has been sent to observe every major election in the country since 1995.

    New framework

    The 2018 presidential elections were held under the country's new constitutional framework, adopted earlier in 2018, which also introduced reduced presidential powers.

    At the same time, the ballot served as a mid-term evaluation for the ruling party, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for 2020.

    Evaluation

    The elections were well-administered and competitive. Despite fears about violence, no major incidents were reported.

    Candidates were generally able to campaign freely, giving voters a genuine choice.

    The ballot could not, however, be held in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali / South Ossetia, which meant that many Georgian citizens were deprived of their right to vote. Several further shortcomings were identified by the European Parliament delegation, including the very negative campaign. Candidates and civil society organisations alike suffered from personal attacks and generally harsh rhetoric, particularly during the first round. An extremely polarised media landscape served to amplify, rather than alleviate, the negative tone.

    All international observers concurred that the the independent candidate backed by the ruling party benefited from a significant advantage, thanks in large part to financial donations and the misuse of administrative resources.

    Pressure and intimidation on Election Day, as well as vote-buying, were also issues flagged by international observers, including the Parliament's delegation.

  • Six election observers sit at a podium to deliver their prelimary findings on the 2018 elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Election observers discuss the ballot in Bosnia and Herzegovina © European Union (2018) - European Parliament

    The European Parliament observed the general elections that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7 October 2018 with a five-member delegation headed by Frank Engel (EPP, Luxembourg).

    This team was integrated into the International Election Observation Mission organised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

    These elections were the first that the European Parliament had observed in Bosnia and Herzegovina since sending an ad hoc delegation in 2002.

    Backdrop

    The elections took place against a backdrop of low public trust in state institutions and a delay in constitutional and electoral reforms owing to political deadlock.

    A lack of unbiased media coverage led to a "preconditioning" of the opinions of voters across the country.

    MEPs' assessment

    MEPs questioned whether the outcome of the elections would have any positive affect on Bosnia and Herzegovina as state with functioning and effective institutions.

    They called for "at least the beginning of the end" to the "longstanding systemic and legal issues that have been around for too many years".

    Inter-parliamentary relations at a standstill

    The European Parliament delegation regretted the "persistent inability of (its) counterparts in the Bosnia and Herzegovina parliament to reach agreement on the rules governing meetings between the two legislatures".

    As a result, there had been no inter-parliamentary meeting for almost three years, although holding these meetings is a contractual obligation enshrined in the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

    Nevertheless, MEPs underlined that the European Parliament remains prepared to engage with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    MEPs urged all stakeholders to show political maturity and to give priority to the country's interests in order to restore citizens' trust of and renew their faith in the future of the country.

    Election Day

    MEPs agreed with the conclusions of other international observers and were pleased that Election Day took place in a calm atmosphere and - despite some irregularities - was generally orderly.

    A large presence of citizen observers contributed to the overall transparency of the process.

    Nevertheless, MEPs considered that some cumbersome procedures could be streamlined. MEPs were also concerned by the prominent role played by observers from political parties, which could influence voters.

    Need to reset

    In summary, the EP delegation stressed that the status quo was "not an option" and that Bosnia and Herzegovina needed to be "reset" as a functioning state with effective institutions and laws that are respected and implemented.

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    The 30 July 2018 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe - including presidential, parliamentary and local ballots - were the first since former president Robert Mugabe stepped down from power after 37 years in office.

    For the first time since 2002, the EU sent an election observation mission, led by Chief Observer MEP Elmar Brok, to the country.

    A European Parliament delegation of seven MEPs, led by MEP Norbert Neuser, joined the long-term mission shortly before Election Day.

    Progress visible on Election Day

    MEPs concluded that the elections represented progress: they were competitive; the campaign and Election Day were largely peaceful; political freedoms (such as freedom of movement, assembly and speech) were generally respected; and there was significantly more open political space than in the past.

    Most importantly, citizens' democratic expectations were palpable on Election Day, when voters waited patiently and calmly to cast their ballot.

    The overall conduct that MEPs saw inside the polling stations was peaceful and orderly, and observers received a friendly welcome from everyone involved.

    The participation of young people and the prominent engagement of women in this election was an encouraging sign for Zimbabwe's future.

    Persistent shortcomings and post-election violence

    Despite the positive developments, shortcomings were also visible.

    The misuse of state resources, instances of coercion and soft intimidation, partisan behaviour by traditional leaders and overt bias in state media - all in favour of the ruling party - meant that a truly level playing field was not achieved.

    The post-election period saw serious abuse and violence, notably the killing of six people by the military on 1 August, as the presidential results were being announced.

    MEP Neuser's evaluation

    At the press conference immediately following the ballot, MEP Neuser said, "These elections are a crucial step - but only a step - in Zimbabwe's reform process. Elections are not an end in themselves, but an important part of a process of change.

    "People have high hopes for the future and, regardless of who wins, it is the duty of political leaders to work to improve the lives of all citizens."

  • Pakistani women show their voting cards stand as they wait to cast their vote outside a polling station during general election in Lahore on July 25, 2018
    Women hold their voter cards in Pakistan - Image used under licence of Shutterstock.com

    The parliamentary elections in Pakistan of 25 July 2018 marked the second consecutive occasion in the history of the country that a democratically elected government had completed its five-year term.

    The rise of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - Pakistan Movement for Justice - had transformed the two-party dominance of politics - with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) alternating in power.

    Headed by Imran Khan, the PTI presented itself as an alternative to the conservative PML-N and the centre-left PPP. The party campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, while being accused by its mainstream opponents of being populist and soft on religious extremism.

    Election observation missions

    EU election observation missions and European Parliament observation delegations had travelled to Pakistan in 2002, 2008 and 2013, and in 2016 for an electoral follow-up mission.

    In 2018 a seven-member European Parliament delegation headed by MEP Jean Lambert (Greens/EFA, UK) was again integrated into the EU election observation mission (EU EOM). The EU mission was led by Chief Observer Michael Gahler (EPP, DE), who had also served as Chief Observer in the country in 2008 and 2013.

    Turbulent backdrop

    The elections took place against a backdrop of political turbulence following the decision of the Supreme Court to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office in July 2017. The decision had been taken in light of disclosures in the Panama Papers and subsequent charges of corruption against him.

    There were widespread reports that the military, particularly through its influence over the Supreme Court, was directly and indirectly interfering in the electoral process and seeking to weaken the PML-N party.

    Some positive developments

    On the positive side, the new Elections Act had improved the legal framework.

    The Election Commission of Pakistan had taken many initiatives to improve accountability and transparency and to increase the participation of women and minorities. There had been regular consultations with political parties and civil society organisations.

    Election Day

    Election Day was orderly in most provinces, with the exception of two deadly attacks in Balochistan.
    Observers assessed voting as well-conducted and transparent.

    MEPs were concerned about the presence of political party camps near to polling stations. These political parties gave paper slips to voters, which they presented to the polling station staff, with a possible impact on the secrecy of the ballot.

    Women's participation

    Members were pleased at the large number of women who voted in the polling stations that they observed. They were also concerned that this was not the case everywhere in the country.

    While appreciating the efforts taken to ensure greater inclusion in the electoral process, MEP Lambert stressed that the country's 5% quota for women candidates was "just a starting point and more in winnable seats would be welcome".

    A step backwards

    MEP Lambert also underlined that the recommendations contained in the final report of the election observation mission would be a factor that monitors would evaluate when reviewing Pakistan's status in the EU's preferential trade scheme.

    In summary observers considered that the 2018 elections were "not as good" as those of 2013. The ballot was considered to mark a step backwards in the consolidation of civilian rule.

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    The European Parliament observed the general elections in Lebanon with a seven-MEP delegation chaired by Ignacio Salafranca (EPP-Spain).

    Lebanon has always been viewed as an important partner for the European Union and the European Parliament.

    The Lebanese people were able to exercise their civic duty in a peaceful atmosphere. The turnout was lower than in 2009, despite the fact that voters had not been called to the polls for nine years.

    The diversity of Lebanese society is a unique asset in the region and should be preserved, taking into account the expectations of the country's youth.

    EU evaluation

    The EU considered the elections well conducted, but said that action was needed to improve women's access to political power and to strengthen the supervision of campaign finance.

    The ballot introduced innovations such as a new proportional system, voting by expatriates and increased voter secrecy, which widened the competition and the choices for voters.

    In a country with high campaign spending, stronger campaign finance regulations and the capacity to implement them are needed to create a level playing field, particularly for a new generation of independents and women.

    Unequal access to media favouring those with the largest campaign funds could be addressed.

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    Le développement et la consolidation de la démocratie en Tunisie sont suivis de près par le Parlement européen, qui le place parmi ses pays prioritaires.

    Ainsi les élections locales, d'ordinaire non observées par le Parlement européen, ont fait l'objet d'une attention particulière.

    Ces élections constituent en effet le dernier élément - très attendu - du processus électoral découlant du Printemps arabe de 2011.

    Elles sont une étape indispensable pour la démocratie tunisienne, et le scrutin observé est jugé crédible par les observateurs européens.

    Les dispositions audacieuses de la loi concernant la représentation des femmes, des jeunes et des personnes souffrant de handicap font de la Tunisie un modèle dont de nombreux États membres de l'Union pourraient s'inspirer.

    En revanche, la faible participation - notamment des jeunes - et la campagne atone témoignent qu'une trop grande partie de la population n'a malheureusement pas saisi cette occasion démocratique pour faire valoir ses idées.

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    The European Parliament observed Paraguay's congressional and presidential elections with a six-member delegation chaired by MEP José Ignacio Salafranca (EPP, Spain).

    The observation mission was intended to support to the process of institutional consolidation in the country.

    Paraguay is a major beneficiary of the EU's Latin American development aid. Negotiations are ongoing on an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, which the European Parliament considers a historic opportunity.

    Observations on the ballot and political environment

    During the observation mission, the EU found that the country's voting procedures had ensured the integrity and transparency of the process. However, the wider political environment suffered from fragile institutions, distrust in political structures and judicial inertia.

    For the first time, a law regulating political financing was applicable, though not fully implemented. There was confidence in the functional performance of the Electoral Commission (Tribunal Superior de Justicia Electoral, or TSJE) despite the fact that it is perceived as politicised.

    Long-standing objectionable practices - such as the manipulation of indigenous populations in order to facilitate vote-buying - were not observed to the extent they had been in 2013.

    Recommendations

    Major recommendations issued by the EU following the vote include

    • ensuring the independence of the judiciary,
    • curtailing the role of political parties in composing the electoral administration,
    • enforcing the law prohibiting broadcasting exit polls during Election Day,
    • covering primary elections under the law regulating political parties and campaign financing,
    • improving women's equal participation in political and public life.

  • A woman casts her vote in Montenegro's presidential election on 15 April 2018
    Voting in Montenegro © European Union (2018) - European Parliament

    The European Parliament observed presidential elections in Montenegro on 15 April 2018 with a seven-member delegation headed by MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo (EFDD, Italy).

    Montenegro is considered a "front-runner" among the candidate countries for EU membership, and the elections represented a milestone for restoring confidence in the country's democratic path after the deep political crisis of 2015 and 2016.

    The presence of European Parliament MEPs provided an opportunity for the delegation to urge the country's political forces to move away from the polarised political climate that had contributed to some opposition parties' decision to boycott the country's parliament.

    A generally positive assessment, with caveats

    The overall assessment of elections by the European Parliament, which was part of an international election observation mission (IEOM), was that fundamental freedoms had been respected, although the governing party had benefited from an institutional advantage.

    The observers reported that candidates had been able to campaign freely and present their views in the media. The legal framework provided a sound basis for democratic elections. Recent amendments to this framework suggested that the authorities had adopted a positive attitude towards electoral reform.

    However there remained a number of omissions and ambiguities in the legal framework. In particular, the lack of regulation about verifying signatures supporting candidates and sanctioning violations.

    Other concerns included dispute resolution procedures, tabulation of results and rules governing campaign finance.

    Election Day

    Election Day took place in an orderly manner, and voting and counting were assessed positively in almost all polling stations observed.

    Observers were particularly impressed that the voters appeared very well informed and that polling station staff usually performed their functions in a professional and competent manner.

    Observers regretted that most polling stations lacked representatives of the opposition candidates.

    The European Parliament delegation was also concerned about the media's lack of financial autonomy, which resulted in partisan reporting.

    Finally, MEPs were unhappy that the State Election Commission failed to publish its decisions and minutes, and that its sessions were not open to the media.

    A single-round win

    The election was won in the first round, with 53.9% of the vote, by Milo Đukanović, former President and Prime Minister, and the candidate of the governing DPS-led coalition.

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    The elections in Sierra Leone in March 2018 represented a milestone in the country's democracy, following a quarter of a century marked by civil war, Ebola and other humanitarian crises.

    A European Parliament delegation, headed by Neena Gill (S&D, UK) observed the elections. The ballot was won by the opposition candidate Julius Maada Bio with 51.8% of the vote.

    Positives

    According to the mission's conclusions, citizens had been able to vote in a generally peaceful environment.

    The elections had been competitive with a large turnout - a sign of citizens' strong commitment to exercising their right to vote.

    The National Electoral Commission (NEC) had carried out its tasks in a transparent and impartial manner. Civil society had been heavily involved in observing the ballot, and most polling station officials performed their tasks effectively.

    Women participated fully in the electoral process, both as voters and as polling station staff.

    Shortcomings

    There were isolated incidents of violence and intimidation - evidence of the country's enduring tribal divisions.

    A prohibition, imposed by the police, on Election Day travel by private vehicles meant that some citizens found it difficult to reach polling stations.

    There were instances of state resources being used to benefit the governing party.

    Finally, the positive role played by women as voters and in polling stations was regrettably not matched by their participation in the political process, in which their representation was low.

    MEP Gill's press statement

    In the press conference following the elections, MEP Gill welcomed the many positive elements of Election Day. She nevertheless underlined that there "should be no confusion between the roles of party representatives and polling centre staff".

  • The inside of a large hall used as a polling station in El Salvador
    Polling place in El Salvador - © European Union (2018) - European Parliament

    A delegation of five MEPs, chaired by Javier López (S&D - Spain) observed El Salvador's parliamentary and municipal (local) elections on 4 March 2018.

    These elections constituted an important step in the consolidation of Salvadorian democracy.

    Campaign, Election Day and results

    Freedom of expression was respected during the campaign period, and candidates received media access, although in an asymmetrical fashion.

    Election Day was calm and generally well organised.

    A system electronically transmitting, tabulating and publishing preliminary election results was successfully implemented, allowing stakeholders to view the results online as they were processed.

    This transparent procedure was welcomed by those involved, who also accepted the election results.

    A new system

    The electoral system was modified in 2013 to de-politicise poll workers. The change was considered a major step towards greater transparency.

    In spite of this, a number of weaknesses persist.

    The Supreme Electoral Tribunal has a limited capacity to investigate in a timely fashion, and the voting system, which allows electors to vote for individual candidates from different parties, is deemed overly complex. These weaknesses also cause delays in scrutinising the result.

    The delegation's activities

    The European Parliament delegation met with representatives of political parties, civil society and the electoral authorities.

    On Election Day, the delegation observed the process in the areas of San Salvador, Cuscatlán and Ahuachapán. MEPs were able to observe the voting freely, limited only by security constraints.

2017 election observation missions

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

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    The European Parliament observed the 2017 general elections in Honduras, with parties and candidates from across the Honduran political spectrum competing. The vote took place in a context of significant polarisation.

    Contested candidacy

    Outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernández's candidacy was permitted by a ruling of the country's Supreme Court, which found that the prohibition on presidential re-election did not apply to him.
    The main opposition parties strongly contested the ruling.

    Election Day and results

    Following a campaign characterised by inequality of resources and of media coverage - both benefiting the ruling party - Election Day was well organised and generally peaceful. The vote counting in polling stations respected voters' will and took place in the presence of representatives of the main political parties.

    The opposition parties contested the election results.

    The Tribunal Supremo Electoral implemented a publication system that ensured that candidates and citizens were able to verify all election results.

    Post-election protests

    At least 22 people died during post-electoral protests.

    The EU EOM deplored and condemned this situation, and reiterated its call to the Honduran authorities to respect protesters' right to peaceful demonstration.

  • A line long line of voters, including many young people, wait outside a polling station in Kyrgyzstan with uniformed officers at the gates
    Waiting to vote in Kyrgyzstan © European Union (2017) - European Parliament

    The European Parliament observed presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan on 15 October 2017.

    A six-MEP delegation, headed by Laima Andrikienė (EPP, Lithuania), joined a longer-term international election observation mission in the country.

    The vote represented a significant test of democratisation in a country whose government has avoided many of the authoritarian tendencies visible in neighbouring countries.

    Parliament has historically supported Kyrgyzstan's democratic development, having deployed four previous election observations delegations since 2005.

    A competitive ballot

    Parliament considered the elections competitive, with a wide range of candidates having generally been able to campaign freely.

    For the first time in Kyrgyz history, there was an orderly transfer of power from one elected candidate to another.

    Technical aspects of the election were well administered. TV debates between the candidates contributed to political pluralism. No violence was observed on Election Day, with the voting proceeding in an orderly fashion.

    Shortcomings

    The delegation also noted reports of media self-censorship, abuse of public resources, pressure on voters, and vote-buying. There was evidence that the Central Commission for Election often favoured the government-backed candidate - who ultimately won the election - when adjudicating disputes, particularly in the last days of the campaign.

    Media freedoms were under strain, with reports of significant self-censorship, and observers considered national legislation as at odds with the country's international commitments.

    MEPs were particularly concerned with restrictions on the media and civil society, and with the arrests of opposition politicians and their supporters.

    Looking towards a new comprehensive EU-Kyrgyzstan agreement, MEPs stressed that the Kyrgyz authorities needed to show full respect for shared values, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and the separation of powers.

    Outcome

    Sooronbay Jeenbekov (Social Democratic Party), the candidate widely perceived as the successor to outgoing President Almazbek Atambayev, won the elections outright with 54% of the vote. As a result, no second round was held.

    Jeenbekov's main opponent, Omurbek Babanov (from the ResPublika party, but running as an independent) obtained 33.75% of votes.

    Babanov conceded defeat on 16 October. He did not congratulate the winner, but argued that his opponents had abused administrative resources and pressured voters.

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    A seven-member European Parliament delegation, led by MEP David McAllister (EPP, Germany), observed the general elections in Kenya on 8 August 2017, in Nairobi as well as in the strategic areas of Kajiado and Naivasha.

    In a high-stakes, polarised and competitive electoral contest, Kenyans came out in large numbers on Election Day, patiently and peacefully exercising their democratic rights.

    Preparations for the elections faced tight deadlines, a tense environment and significant reliance on controversial IT systems.

    The day after voting, the opposition issued a press statement alleging that the electoral IT systems had been hacked and the election results fundamentally compromised.

    Contested results and a rerun


    The final results were announced on 11 August. The incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner with 54.3% of the vote. His opponent, Raila Odinga, was credited with 44.7% of votes.

    International observers unanimously called on political leaders to act responsibly, to pursue any complaints through legal dispute mechanisms and to ensure that their supporters remained calm.

    On 1 September 2017, following a petition by Odinga, the Supreme Court of Kenya declared the result of the presidential election to be "invalid, null and void". This unprecedented, historic decision led to a re-run on 26 October.

    The second ballot was boycotted by the opposition, leading to a turnout of only 39% and to the victory of Uhuru Kenyatta, who garnered 98% of votes cast.

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    The European parliament has observed all presidential and parliamentary elections in East Timor since the independence of the country in the early 2000s.

    The elections in 2017 were the first to be organised without the assistance of the United Nations, which represented a significant democratic milestone for the country.

    Delegations were sent to observe the presidential elections in March and the parliamentary elections in July.

    The electoral process was managed effectively on both occasions, with commendable involvement of the country's citizens, who displayed trust and a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

    This was all the more remarkable given that country gained its independence recently. It also serves as a very promising sign for the future of the country, which has a young population.

    There were, however, areas for improvement, notably in the fields of political financing and media coverage.

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    The European Parliament observed competitive and well-organised presidential elections in Mongolia in 2017.

    During a short but fierce campaign, freedoms of assembly and expression were generally respected.

    Uncertainty about candidacies was heightened by a drawn-out complaint resolution process, as well as by pending court cases.

    The candidates

    Three candidates representing all three parliamentary parties contested the election.

    By law, no other party had the right to nominate candidates, and no candidates could stand independently.

    In general, candidacy requirements were overly restrictive and limited voters' choice.

    Voting

    In the polling stations visited by the European Parliament, polling staff efficiently facilitated voting, adhering to established procedures.

    The introduction of ballot secrecy sleeves was a welcome initiative, yet caused confusion in some polling stations. At times the procedure did not fully ensure the secrecy of vote.

    Democratic change

    Parliament encouraged Mongolia to continue its administrative reform in order to reinforce the democratic underpinnings of its political system.

    The European Parliament supports the democratic path adopted by the Mongolian people and authorities.
    Their achievements should serve as a reference for the entire region.

  • A dozen observers, incluing MEP Eduard Kukan, standing together in a polling place in Albania
    MEP Eduard Kukan and election observers at polling place in Albania © European Union (2017) - European Parliament

    The European Parliament sent a seven-member delegation, headed by MEP Eduard Kukan (EPP, Slovakia), to observe Albania's legislative elections on 27 June 2017.

    Parliament has strongly supported the country's process of democratisation and has offered its support to the country's accession to the EU - provided the necessary requirements are met.

    The May 2017 agreement

    Leading MEPs have strongly promoted a political agreement to hold inclusive elections in Albania, concluded between the two main parties on 18 May 2017. This agreement had ended a three-month political standoff between the country's Socialist and Democrat parties.

    The European Parliament had warmly welcomed this settlement, which opened the way for the main opposition party to participate in the elections.

    Converting the political accord into a legal framework, however, had presented the country's electoral administration with many challenges, resulting in selective and inconsistent application of legislation.

    Evaluation

    Observers still concluded that fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression had been respected during the campaign.

    This positive evaluation was tempered by allegations of vote-buying, pressure on voters and evidence that electoral bodies and institutions had been politicised.

    The European Parliament delegation was pleased that Election Day had proceeded in an orderly and generally peaceful manner, despite reports of some irregularities.

    MEPs highlighted that all recommendations from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) needed to be fully implemented before the next elections.

    MEPs emphasised that the constructive participation of all political parties in the country's legislature would build citizens' trust and confidence in the political process.

    Outcome

    The newly constituted 140-seat parliament included 74 MPs from the Socialist Party, 43 from the Democratic Party and 19 representatives of the Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI).

  • Cars in Kosovo transporting EU election observers
    EU election observers in Kosovo © European Union, 2017

    The European Parliament has always closely followed political and regional developments in Kosovo. In June 2017 Parliament sent a delegation to observe early parliamentary elections.

    Mixed results

    These elections were genuinely competitive and peaceful in most parts of Kosovo, clearly marking a major step in the country's democratic consolidation.

    Nevertheless, the process was negatively impacted by intimidation and instances of violence from within the Kosovo Serb community.

    Links to 2014

    These elections and those of 2014 may be linked.

    Several recommendations from 2014 were not fully implemented by the authorities. This led to weaknesses, notably concerning the timeframe, campaign financing, and interference with the independence of the media.

  • Observer standing in front of the gates of a polling station in Gambia
    Polling station in Gambia © European Union (2017) - European Parliament

    Legislative elections held in The Gambia in April 2017 were the first democratic parliamentary elections conducted since former President Yahya Jammeh was defeated in a presidential ballot in December 2016.

    The first fully-fledged EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) in the country was led by MEP Miroslav Poche (S&D, Czech Republic).

    The elections, while contested, were held in a calm and peaceful atmosphere and proved well-organised. An imperfect electoral system had been inherited from the past regime, although traditional Gambian election procedures - using marbles and drums - proved clear, transparent and efficient.

    Few women

    Only 20 of the 239 candidates nominated for the National Assembly elections were women, and only 3 were elected to the 53 seats.

    This represents less than 6% of elected members.

    Acknowledging historical significance

    MEP Jean Lambert (Greens, UK), head of the European Parliament delegation joining the EU mission, acknowledged the results, saying:

    "The Gambia has been through a historical moment with many things changing almost overnight. A few shortcomings have been identified in the election conduct. However, given the circumstances, I would like to express my great respect to the IEC [Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission] as well as to the Gambian citizens for the peaceful atmosphere of the Election Day."

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    Armenia's April 2017 elections were the first to be organised after the country revised its constitution in 2015, moving from a semi-presidential system to a parliamentary democracy.

    The elections were observed by an international election observation mission, composed of

    • the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
    • the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly,
    • the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and
    • a delegation from the European Parliament, led by MEP Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, Finland).
    Safeguarding confidentiality

    Well ahead of these elections, the EU offered strong technical and financial assistance to implement measures designed to safeguard the secrecy of the vote.

    Video cameras were installed in the majority of polling stations, and the use of biometric devices was generalised to guarantee the identity of each voter.

    These changes responded to shortcomings witnessed in previous elections.

    Results and a problematic pre-electoral period

    The elections were won by the ruling Republican Party with 49.5% of the vote. The party then formed a coalition government with the help of a junior partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

    Before this, the pre-electoral period witnessed numerous allegations of vote-buying and voter intimidation - especially public-sector employees - largely by the winning Republican Party.

    While Election Day was calm, European Parliament teams directly witnessed local party representatives interfering in the electoral process.

    The findings of the international election observation mission pointed to these failings, which contributed to citizens' lack of trust in the country's electoral process.

1994-2016 election observation missions

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