July 20, 2020 - The European Parliament (EP) has so far banned all external missions due to coronavirus, which is still widespread in Europe. That is the message from EP representatives to "Vijesti". In the context of currently available information, the August elections will be held despite the dizzying growth of COVID-19 and the potential opening of over 1000 new clusters by opening polls throughout Montenegro. This means that elections would be held without EC observers.
"If there is a change, the Group for the Support of Democracy and Coordination of Elections (DEG) will reassess the situation in co-operation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)," explained the office of EP President David Maria Sassoli.
In a letter to Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Ivan Brajovic this week, Sassoli wrote that DEG confirmed at a meeting last month that observing the elections in Montenegro was a priority, and that the Mission's arrival would be considered in the coming period in co-operation with the ODIHR.
The DEG has an official advisory role for the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission when he selects priority countries for election observation missions and appoints chief observers. An MEP leads each EU monitoring mission.
The DEG is chaired by the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and the Committee on Development (DEVE), David McAllister and Thomas Tobe.
The European Parliament sends 10 to 12 short-term delegations each year to observe elections in non-EU countries. According to the EP's website, these delegations are joining long-term missions that have been deployed only at the request of local authorities.
These long-term missions are either EU EOMs in Africa, the United States or Asia or ODIHR-led International Election Observation Missions (IEOMs) in countries that are members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In this case, the EP delegation joins forces with commissions from parliamentary assemblies, such as OSCE, the Council of Europe and NATO.
Parliamentary involvement is said to add political influence to long-term missions. The experience of European parliamentarians as elected representatives also enriches the assessment of local election processes.
At the invitation of Brajović to European officials to actively involve their organizations in the upcoming election process in Montenegro, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was the first to form a delegation of 22 members to monitor the forthcoming elections, and, as announced by the Assembly, in Montenegro has an ODIHR Mission Assessment Mission for parliamentary elections.
The EP mission observed the elections in Peru on January 26 this year.
"Electoral institutions have provided a well-run and credible process, despite the short deadline for preparations. Voting and counting procedures were generally followed with sufficient measures to guarantee transparency, despite the lack of party representatives for most of the day and the late opening of a significant number of polling stations. Parties and candidates were free to campaign with balanced coverage in state-owned media. However, the campaign on social networks was disrupted by personal attacks on the candidates. Rigorous requirements for candidate applications and unrealistic deadlines for corrections have led to a large number of disqualifications. Electoral silence was not respected on social media." These are some of the EP Mission assessments regarding the elections in Peru.
In 2019, the EP monitored the elections in Nigeria, Moldova, Senegal, Ukraine, Tunisia, Kosovo, Mozambique, and Sri Lanka.
Institutional advantage of DPS noted in 2018
The EP observed the presidential elections in Montenegro on April 15, 2018, with a seven-member delegation led by MEP Fabio Massimo Castaldo.
"The presence of European parliamentarians provided an opportunity for the delegation to encourage the country's political forces to overcome the polarized political climate that contributed to some opposition parties' decision to boycott parliament," the Mission said in a statement.
The overall assessment of the EP Mission, which was part of the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM), was that fundamental freedoms were respected during the elections. However, the ruling party benefited from an institutional advantage.
"However, several omissions and ambiguities remain in the legal framework. In particular, the lack of regulations on the verification of signatures supporting candidates and sanctioning violations of the law. Other issues of concern included dispute resolution procedures, tabulation of results, and campaign finance rules," the report said.