May 02, 2008

" The elections I observed in Armenia were the worst I have seen so far."

Election Secrets Revealed: Crying foul over chicanery at Armenia's polls and the honeyed tones of European diplomacy.

by Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin and Matyas Eorsi; 22 April 2008

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has threatened to suspend Armenia’s voting rights in the body unless it makes considerable progress toward democratic and judicial reforms by PACE’s June session. PACE sent observers to witness Armenia’s presidential election in February. It declared the voting to be “mostly in line with the country’s international commitments, although further improvements are necessary to address remaining challenges.” John Prescott, a former British deputy prime minister who headed the delegation, said, “While we noted improvements in the framework for these elections, problems with its implementation, especially during the vote count, in some cases undermined the trust of the people.” Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin, a parliamentarian from Sweden who was part of the Armenia mission, considered that an understatement. She delivered her speech during PACE’s 14 April session.

I have been in this parliamentary assembly since January 2007 and I have observed elections in four countries: Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and Armenia. The elections I observed in Armenia were the worst I have seen so far. The opening of the polling stations and the proceedings on the day were not too bad, but the counting in the polling station that I chose to visit was a disaster. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The number of voters who had voted and who had been marked on the list of voters was not counted, unused ballot papers were not destroyed and the protocol in which the results were to be entered had already been signed by members of the election committee.

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