Within the project funded by the European Union, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections “Pod Lupom” held yesterday a central conference entitled “Future of elections in BiH: How to reach international standards and prevent election fraud?” and presented its Final Report on the Civic and Non-partisan Observation of the 2018 General Elections.
The incomplete legal framework, non-implementation of binding verdicts by local and international courts, transparent violation of the Election Law of BiH, a record high number of registered election irregularities, political influence on the election administration and the absence of sanctions contributed to the Coalition assessing the 2018 General Elections as partially irregular. This is the first time in the Coalition’s history that some segments of the electoral process are assessed as irregular.
Opening remarks were made by H.E. Eric Nelson, the United States Ambassador to BiH, H.E. Ambassador Bruce Berton, the Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH and Elisabet Tomasinec, the Head of Political Section at the European Union Delegation/EUSR Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conference included two panel discussions on the burning issues: “How to achieve free and fair elections in BiH: Mission impossible or a pressing need” and the “Priorities in improving the election legislation in BiH: Where to start and where to stop?”
The conclusions that were reached at the conference should serve BiH decision-makers to improve the electoral legislation in BiH:
- Election fraud and irregularities must be prevented, and perpetrators must be sanctioned so that the electoral will of BiH citizens is never called into question again;
- New government in BiH must secure the necessary changes of the electoral legislation in order to conduct free and fair elections in the near future;
- Election irregularities and fraud must be sanctioned by the authorized institutions and election administration; the sanctions must be greater, and the work of investigative authorities should be more efficient;
- Introducing new technologies in the electoral process is an inevitable step to bring back the citizens’ trust in the elections, and it is also a crucial step that should be implemented in the non-election year;
- The responsibility for administration of elections is on the election authorities, especially on the Central Election Commission of BiH that must be independent and impartial in its future work;
- The verdicts of the European Court for Human Rights must be a priority in the implementation of the binding court rulings into the election legislation, together with the rulings of the Constitutional Court of BiH;
- The state-level government should launch the initiative to enact the Law on Political Organizations to regulate the work of political parties in BiH;
The Conference brought together more than a hundred representatives of the legislative institutions at all levels in BiH, local election administration, international institutions, academic community, civil society and media. Members of the Central Election Commission of BiH did not respond to the invitation to participate.
The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections “Pod lupom” is a coalition of six NGOs that is funded by the European Union in the amount of €1.5 million to improve electoral legislation in BiH. The Coalition facilitates active participation of citizens in advocacy and election monitoring.