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Chief Observer of the EU election observation mission to Lebanon’s 2018 parliamentary elections, Mme. Elena Valenciano, presented the mission’s statement of preliminary findings of the 6 May elections today, declaring them well run but needing an injection of reforms.
Mme. Valenciano said: “Some clear facts have emerged from the campaign and election day process that we have observed since the end of March when we arrived. First, it was generally peaceful, with only a few incidents of violence or confrontation. Second, real innovations were introduced, extending the vote to expatriates, making voting more secret and changing the system to a proportional one.
“But it’s clear also that more needs to be done to facilitate the participation of women in politics in this country. Affirmative measures were not included in the electoral law agreed in 2017 and, despite the big increase in female candidates in 2018 (86), and the small increase in female MPs (6), there is room for further representation.”
Mme. Valenciano, who is a Member of the European Parliament from Spain, also called for the supervisory and sanctioning powers of the Supervisory Commission for Elections (SCE), to be strengthened, saying: “We will be making recommendations which could improve the regulations, and their implementation, governing campaign spending. We think this could make the playing field, which the electoral law has to a degree opened up, more even for all.
The President of the European Parliament Delegation, Mr. Jose Ignacio Salafranca, said: “Lebanon has always been an important partner for the European Union and the European Parliament. We reiterate our strong interest in and support of the country.
“Lebanese people were able to exercise their civic duty in a peaceful atmosphere, despite a lower turnout compared to 2009. The diversity of the Lebanese society is a unique asset in the region that must be preserved, taking into account the expectations of young Lebanese people.”
On election day, the EU EOM had over 132 observers on the ground, consisting of long and short-term observers from all Member States of the EU, the European Parliamentary delegation and members of EU embassies in Beirut. They covered election day activities in 527 polling stations, allowing representative samples to be made on important questions such as the secrecy and integrity of the vote, performance of the electoral authorities and access for people with disabilities. This sampling also included EU EOM observation of the expatriate out-of-country voting in ten European countries and early voting in Lebanon.
A core team has been in-country since the end of March and was joined by the 24 long-term observers at the beginning of April. The mission will stay well beyond election day, until the end of May, to observe any legal complaints or disputes that may arise. Some two months after election day, Mme. Valenciano will return to Lebanon to present the mission’s final report with an assessment of the comprehensive and long-term observations made and including recommendations for improvements to future electoral processes.
All EU EOM observers are bound by a code of conduct, which requires strict neutrality and non-interference. The EU EOM undertakes its work in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. You can read the preliminary statement here.