European observers present findings, note shortcomings in polls

European observers present findings, note shortcomings in Armenian polls

Arminfo
13 Apr 07

Yerevan, 13 April: "The forthcoming parliamentary election will be an
exam to assess Armenia’s democracy level," the Parliamentary Assembly
of the Council of Europe [PACE] observation mission says in a
statement.

The statement was made public by Leo Platvoet, head of the mission, at
a news conference in Yerevan today.

The statement points out that the PACE observers note Armenian
officials’ readiness to conduct free and democratic elections and
underscore that responsibility also lies with all the political
parties and interested parties to hold elections in line with
international standards. The observers also indicate that Armenia’s
current legislation is a good basis for democratic elections if
applied in full in practice.

The observers condemn the recent blasts in the Prosperous Armenia
Party offices and voice concern about some shortcomings on the voters’
lists. The observers also expressed regret that many participants in
the election process took a negative stance on a PACE initiative to
use special ink in order to thwart multiple voting. "Besides, we are
concerned that voters do not show a significant interest in free
elections, and what’s more, it gets to cynicism sometimes. The
impression is that the forthcoming election is viewed by many as a
struggle of political elites, not of political ideas. We are also
concerned that in some of the constituencies under the
first-past-the-post system non-alternative elections will be
conducted," the statement says.

The observers also note the lack of serious differences in the
platforms of political forces. Based on their monitoring of media
outlets, they expressed concern over the campaigning process and a
very high number of political advertisements on Armenian TV
channels. They are also unhappy with the ban on voting outside
Armenia.

The observers also point out that the fraud and violations committed
during the past elections were never investigated, saying that the
2003 elections did not meet the Council of Europe standards. They urge
the Armenian authorities to investigate any protests and violations
during the forthcoming election. "If Armenia wants to be a part of
the European community, it should take a step towards free elections,"
Platvoet said.

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