President of the European Council in high profile visit to the South Caucasus. Elections feature prominently in the discussions.

Herman Van Rumpoy

Elections featured prominently in the discussions held by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, in the course of his high profile visit to the region during which he met the President of the three South Caucasus countries, as well as civil society and political party representatives. Recognising the progress made by Armenia in the conduct of its recent Parliamentary elections, van Rompuy addressed a special session of the Armenian Parliament.

CEW Victoria Arnold sums up the visit of the President of the European Council to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. More…

OSCE/ODIHR prepares to deploy 400 international observers for Georgia’s autumnas report of its “Needs Assessment Mission” highlights polorised environment. 1

An OSCE/ODIHR “Needs assessment mission”, ahead of Georgia’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, has released its report following its visit to the country from 11-15 June. The report noted a “polarised” electoral environment in Georgia and stated the need to ensure that the elections are observed evenly across the country, with particular emphasis on the regions with national minorities.

The OSCE/ODIHR representatives called for OSCE Member States to pledge 28 long-term observers to be deployed for the campaign period and 350 short-term observers for the actual election day, in addition to the core OSCE/ODIHR staff. While noting several improvements, and the implementation of many of the OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission’s previous recommendations to the electoral framework and preparations, the report highlighted concerns surrounding voters’ lists, abuse of administrative funds for campaign purposes, intimidation of opposition supporters in the regions, the rigidity and selectivity of the State Audit Service (SAS), and the political polarisation of the media. The report recommended the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission (EOM) concentrate its activities on monitoring the implementation and impact of the new electoral legal framework, media coverage of the campaign, the application of the new regulations for campaign financing, the performance of the complaints and appeals mechanism, and the general conduct of candidates throughout the campaign. More…

CEW Editorial Comment: Elections in the South Caucasus – Is the glass half full or half empty?

The Irish Chairmanship of the OSCE and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)will be hosting a meeting in Vienna on 12-13 July to discuss democratic elections and elections observation.

This Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) will provide a platform to discuss best practices in follow-up and implementation of the OSCE commitments on democratic elections and explore strategies and key issues in election observation. The SHDM will also address such election related matters as universal and equal suffrage rights, legal framework, media, campaign financing, and gender.

The meeting cannot be more timely for the countries of the South Caucasus in the middle of a crucial cycle of elections. More…

Interview: The Chairman of Georgian CEC speaks to CEW about preparations for the October elections.

In an exclusive interview with Caucasus Elections Watch, the Chairman of the Georgian Central Elections Commission, Zurab Kharatishvili, welcomes the fact that it is not the CEC which is responsible to supervise political party finance and the compilation of the voters list. He speaks about the work of the CEC in other spheres at it prepares for the Parliamentary Elections in October. More…

OSCE pushes for more women participation in politics in the South Caucasus

A meeting hosted by the OSCE in Yerevan analysed the role of women in the 6 May Parliamentary elections.

As part of its mandate to support and promote pluralism and equal democratic representation, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) recently organised events to address the issue of women’s political participation in Baku and Yerevan.

On June 21 and 22, the OSCE office in Baku with support from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) brought together over 30 senior political party officials to discuss how to increase participation amongst women in political parties. More…

Armenia between elections.

The dust has hardly settled following the 6 May parliamentary elections in Armenia but attention is already shifting to Presidential elections scheduled for early next year.

Two reports published in the last few days analyse the outcome of the Parliamentary elections. The OSCE/ODIHR published the final report of its Election Observation Mission with detailed recommendations of things that need to happen before the February elections if they are to be considered up to international standards. On its part, the International Crisis Group in a separate report also looks at both the past and forthcoming elections but says that at the next elections there is more at stake than simply who is going to be the next President of Armenia.  “The country needs a better future than a stunted economy and dead-end conflicts with neighbours.” More…