Observing elections to improve democracy
After Democracy Volunteers’ successful deployment to the Catalonian regional elections on December 21st 2017, as attendees of the voting, the UK Parliament’s special interest group for Catalonia (the All Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia) invited Democracy Volunteers’ director, Dr. John Ault to speak at their regular meeting on Monday 26th February 2018.
At the talk at the Palace of Westminster’s Portcullis House, Dr. Ault talked about the international and independent nature of the self-funded deployment, with attendees from the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Norway.
Dr. Ault, told the APPG’s meeting about the main findings of the report including the results of the thorough coding of the media undertaken by volunteers that found that there was a high level of bias most visibly in the privately-owned Madrid-based media. However, some was found in the state-owned media that is supposed to be unbiased.
Another point stressed was the breach of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Agreement that specifically mentions that international and domestic observers should be encouraged to attend all elections.
The Director of Democracy Volunteers finished by reminding the members that although the organisation had made the main findings regarding media bias and the breach of the spirit of the letter of the 1990 Copenhagen Agreement through first-hand scrutiny, this is something that has be noted by the OSCE/ODHIR on a number of previous assessments.
He also noted that observation is a key part in the electoral process and that allowing independent international observers increases the legitimacy of elections in the eyes of both the international community but, more importantly, in the eyes of the voters themselves.
We would like to thank the APPG on Catalonia for inviting us to their event. And special thanks to Christopher Bambery for hosting us on the day.