The observation of elections plays an important role in the assessment of democratic governance, rule of law and respect for human rights in a country. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore systematically observes parliamentary and presidential elections in member States that are under monitoring procedure or engaged in the post-monitoring dialogue.
Elections are observed by ad hoc committees of the Bureau which often are part of an International Election Observation Mission.
For the Assembly, an election does not concern only the polling day, but a process involving several stages (electoral legislation, pre-electoral environment and electoral campaign, conduct of the vote) all of which need to be analysed and evaluated to assess the electoral process.
To ensure a comprehensive observation process, the Bureau often sends a pre-electoral mission, and the co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee are ex-officio members of the ad hoc committee. For all stages of the electoral process preceding the day of the vote, the Assembly to large extent relies on the conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term observation missions.
The Monitoring Committee follows the situation in the countries under the monitoring procedure and post-monitoring dialogue very closely in a systematic way, that is not limited to the electoral process. It is therefore tasked with providing the long-term contextual background against which elections take place, which increasingly determines the overall conduct of elections. It is therefore of concern that the final conclusions of the Assembly observers do not always take into account or do not entirely correspond to the findings of the Committee rapporteurs based on long-term monitoring and political dialogue.
The Assembly should reflect on the ways in which the expertise of the Monitoring Committee could be put to better use so as to benefit the observers and how to increase the involvement of the Monitoring Committee in the observation process of relevant countries.