EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 2020
THE ELECTIONS CONDUCTED
IN A FAIR AND DEMOCRATIC ATMOSPHERE
The preliminary assessment of the Citizens Association MOST is that the elections were conducted in a fair and democratic atmosphere. Yet again, the citizens participated in an election process in which they could freely express their will. The election administration efficiently administered the voting under special health protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only few isolated cases of irregularities were noticed during the Election Day that did not influence the quality of the election process.
The campaign was conducted in a mostly relaxed atmosphere. Yet again there were no incidents that influenced the atmosphere in which the campaign was conducted, which continues the improving trend from the previous election processes. An exception from this are the cases of negative campaign and the nationalist rhetoric. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the manner in which the campaign was conducted, and the same was characterized by smaller rallies, direct meetings with citizens and so-called door-to-door campaign.
Prevention of misuse of state resources for the election campaign
The State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) adjudicated upon six complaints from VMRO-DPMNE and three complaints for anonymous submitter in regards to misuse of state resources, accepting two complaints from VMRO-DPMNE. The SCPC continues the positive practice from the previous elections in regards to addressing potential violations, and this time all the decisions were adopted in accordance with the provisions in the Election Code.
Even though on these elections the number of citizens who could not be found in the Voters list was not high, still, there were speculations in the public aimed at undermining the trust in the election process. Therefore, MOST encourages relevant institutions to continue to remove more efficiently the long-standing systemic problems in maintaining and updating the Voters’ List, especially in regards to the standardization of data on addresses and the coordination between relevant institutions.
The State Election Commission worked in an efficient and collegial atmosphere. The transparency of its work is positively assessed, taking into consideration that its sessions were public, and streamed live on the Internet. However, the SEC should continue to strengthen its technical capacities in this regard, by which it will enable the public to follow the sessions without any obstacles.
The SEC adjudicated upon 42 complaints on early campaigning and rejected all of them, with the explanation that there was insufficient evidence. However, from the articles in the media it was clear that some of the contestants started their campaign early. Therefore, MOST repeats its recommendation for appropriate regulation of the period between the certification of the candidates’ lists and the commencement of the campaign.
The SEC conducted a field campaign for voters’ education, and it is positive that the campaign was focused on the safety of the voting. The SEC intensively conducted this campaign on the social networks as well.
During election night, SEC was faced with a hacker attack on the web-page for the election results, which denied the public the initial results from the elections, while the web-page is still not functional. The timing of the attack raises suspicions that it was a well-ahead planned attempt to undermine the trust in the election process.
The Election Code was amended on the day before the announcement of the elections, 15 February 2020, contrary to international standards and good practice. Taking into consideration that the amendment was substantial, while it has become common for the Election Code to be amended immediately before the elections, this practice should be abandoned. After the elections, MOST appeals for the comprehensive and inclusive process of election reform that was conducted in 2019 by the Minsitry of Justice to continue, by which the remaining recommendations from the domestic and international obsrevers will be implemented.
MOST would like to extend gratitude to all citizens who selflessly helped the efforts of a domestic, non-partisan observation of the elections, as well as to all supporters who assisted the mission of the Citizens Association MOST.
About the MOST monitoring mission
The Citizens Association MOST started the election monitoring activities on 1 June 2020. MOST deployed 30 long-term observers in all municipalities across the country that followed all aspects of the process. MOST observed the Election Day with 696 observers, thereby covering 20% of the total number of polling stations. The work of the State Election Commission and the municipal electoral commissions was observed as well.
MOST observers were static, and monitored the voting process throughout the entire day. In addition to the static observers at the polling stations, the Citizens Association MOST also deployed 55 mobile teams consisting of 2 observers each, who served as a logistical support for the static observers and occasionally observed the polling stations in which MOST did not deploy static observers.
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The project “Domestic Monitoring of the Early Parliamentary Elections 2020” is supported by the British Embassy Skopje, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The views and opinions expressed in this press-release are the responsibility of MOST and do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporters of the project.
For additional information: Citizens Association MOST, phone 02/30 99 384