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Setting minimum standards for electoral systems to ensure free and fair elections

The Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, meeting today in Paris, invited the Venice Commission to reflect on the setting of “minimum standards with which electoral systems should comply in order to guarantee free elections and fair results thereof”, thus preventing a large discrepancy between voters' choices and the composition of elected institutions.

The report by Hendrik Daems (Belgium, ALDE), adopted by the committee, underlines that, due to a vast variety of electoral systems – both in terms of legislation and practical implementation – they do not provide an equal degree of fairness when it comes to translating the votes cast into political mandates and seats in parliament.

According to the parliamentarians, the Code of good practice in electoral matters, drafted in 2002 by the Venice Commission in co-operation with the Assembly, should be updated taking into account PACE's work on the conduct of elections, concerning in particular: voting rights for citizens abroad; independent candidacies; turnout requirements; thresholds; ranking order of party lists and balanced participation of women and men.

Finally, the adopted text calls on the Venice Commission to remain alert to the “unprecedented influence of social networks and the misuse of traditional and social media for spreading fake news”.