Observing elections to improve democracy
Four teams made up of 12 researchers, sorted into teams of 2, 3 or 4, toured Catalonia on 21st December 2017 to assess the quality of the election. The team was made of researchers from the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, France, Italy and Norway.
They made 81 separate visits across the region, primarily focused in metropolitan Barcelona as well as the cities of Tarragona and Girona. This team of researchers was assisted by a local team of 6 researchers, translators and drivers.
As there is no legal provision for international election observers in Spain these researchers did not enter polling stations but made their observations externally and reported back by means of an online survey which the central team managed regularly.
As well as this work the team also conducted interviews with the leading political parties contesting the election, officials of Catalan institutions as well as attending party events across Catalonia.
The team was in Catalonia for a week before the election to conduct this research.
As well as external observation of polling stations the team also conducted extensive media monitoring of the election by assessing the quality and bias of the political debate in the Spanish national and regional media which covers Catalonia.
This constituted 23 media outlets which were randomly selected across the 17 days of the official campaign period in the election. A 20% sample was taken so that each outlet was generally assessed at least four times over the period of the election. In total, 417 surveys were completed as part of this research project.
(NB – All researchers were self-funded and no financial support was granted to the group from within Spain or without.)
The Interim Report can be accessed below.