To National Platforms and participants past and present of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, independent Civil Society Organisations and election monitors in Eastern Partnership countries
Democratic legitimacy is the basis of good government. Fair elections guarantee the success of lasting reform. Reform is impossible without fair democratic procedures as reforms will not succeed unless they are introduced by fairly elected legitimate legislatures and governments. The Eastern Partnership programme of which the Civil Society Forum (CSF) is a part, advocates reforms aimed at having partner countries base their political systems on the principles of democracy, a market economy and the rule of law. None of this can be achieved without free and fair elections.
The Steering Committee of the CSF elected in Poznan in November 2011 has agreed that the subject of elections as well as the fight against corruption and struggle for a free media should be flagship issues for the CSF. These three subjects will enjoy special prominence at the CSF meeting in November of this year. Free elections and the development of a pluralistic political system are impossible without a free media. A pluralistic political system and a free media are impossible in a system where state structures have been captured by corrupt elites. These elites receive material benefits thanks to being in a position of power and use those material benefits to maintain themselves in power.
A meeting of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly in Baku in April (where the CSF has observer status) composed of members of the European parliament and members of parliament from the Partnership Countries except for Belarus overwhelmingly called on the Eastern Partnership Countries to “ensure that forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, which are on the way, prove to be free, fair, democratic as conducted to the standards of the OSCE”. The assembly also condemned corruption and called for the development of free and independent media in the Partnership Countries.
This year will see such elections in four of the six Eastern Partnership Countries – Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine. The CSF calls on its members and other independent organizations to pay special attention to these elections with a view to ensuring that they are free and fair. We urge our members to draw up reports on how far the elections adhered to democratic standards. Such reports could be the subject of workshops and seminars at the national level. The seminars would examine how far democratic standards were respected and to look for ways of ensuring that these standards should be respected in the future. A workshop on elections in the four countries is planned to take place in Brussels on June 6 2012 on the fringe of the working group 1 meeting there. Observations and conclusions from these meetings will be brought together at a special session, which would examine the differences and similarities in the four elections and draw conclusions at the CSF at the end of November. The session would also look forward to elections due to take place in 2013and make recommendations on shaping future EU support to civil society and public administration and identify continuing obstacles to the conduct of free and fair elections.
The Steering Committee
Civil Society Forum, Eastern Partnership