OHR’s Statement at the International Agency’s Joint Press Conference

Municipal Elections

Today marks the start of the municipal election
campaign. The October elections will be the first in which mayors of municipalities
are directly elected.

The elections offer citizens an opportunity to do two things:

  • impress upon politicians that the issues that
    matter are creating jobs and improving public services, such as schools,
    infrastructure and medical care
  • introduce new blood into a ruling
    establishment characterized by a preponderance of familiar faces. It’s not
    invariably the case, but it is often the case that new faces mean new

Likewise, the elections offer political parties an opportunity to tackle the
everyday problems faced by voters – problems for which they have practical

OHR urges the parties to campaign on the strength of their policies, not on
the basis of fear. Too often politicians of all colours cynically play the
politics of competitive victimisation, exploiting nationalist issues for crude
electoral purposes instead of focusing on improving life for the citizens.
Cheating the voters out of dealing with the issues that really matter to them
undermines the basic democratic premise that representatives act to improve the
lives of those they have been elected to represent.

Faced by the daily reality of low incomes, poor services and a crumbling
infrastructure, citizens have a right to expect practical, specific, concrete
commitments from their politicians, not the irrelevent nationalistic politics of
competitive victimisation.