The Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Lebanon’s 2018 parliamentary elections, Elena Valenciano, returned to Beirut on Monday to present the mission’s Final Report, including a number of recommendations for strengthening further Lebanon's electoral system. They include recommended measures to address gaps in the regulations governing the financing of campaigns, unequal access to the media and under-representation of women in parliament, which continues to be one of the most important challenges.
Mme. Valenciano said: “There was a remarkable increase in the number of women candidates, which raised hopes of greater representation of women in Lebanese politics. However, only six were elected and women remain severely under-represented. We suggest the adoption of temporary special measures that could accelerate women’s political participation in line with Lebanon’s international obligations.”
She added: “Lebanon's new electoral law adopted last year contained several improvements that had also been recommended by the European Union Election Observation Mission after the last parliamentary elections in 2009, such as a new proportional system, the possibility for expatriates to vote and increased voter secrecy. These had positive effects, such as widening the fields of competition and choice for the electorate. However, more could be done to address some of the observed weaknesses, for example by strengthening the oversight and sanctioning powers of the Supervisory Commission for Elections.”
In all, Mme. Valenciano, who is a Member of the European Parliament from Spain, is presenting 25 recommendations, on issues ranging from women’s representation, election administration and the performance of regulatory bodies, to the campaign environment, the media and electoral disputes.
The European Union Election Observation Mission was deployed on March 27 and remained in Lebanon until the deadline for filing claims with the Constitutional Council expired. On Election Day itself the mission had over 130 observers on the ground. These consisted of long and short-term observers from all Member States of the European Union, a European Parliamentary delegation and members of European Union Member State embassies in Beirut. They covered Election Day activities in more than 525 polling stations, drawing samples for a complete picture of polling day across the country. This sampling also included the mission's observation of the expatriate out-of-country voting in ten European countries and early voting in Lebanon.
All observers are bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict neutrality and non-interference. The European Union Election Observation Mission undertakes its work in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.