European Union External Action

EU Election Observation Mission to Timor-Leste 2012

07/07/2012 - 11:18
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Following an invitation from the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, the European Union has established a mission to observe the Legislative Elections in Timor-Leste, scheduled for 7 July 2012.

The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) was led by Chief Observer Fiona Hall, a British member of the European Parliament.

The mission will comprise a total of 70 long-term observers, short-term observers and election analysts from the different EU member states. The observers are to be deployed throughout the country to observe the electoral process and to meet government and electoral officials, candidates and political parties, civil society representatives and the media.

The mission conducts a comprehensive analysis of the entire electoral process based on long-term observation. This analysis includes the legal framework, the work of the election administration, the role of state institutions, campaign activities, the conduct of the media, the role of civil society, voting and counting, the complaints and appeals process and the announcement of the results.

The mission will also be joined, shortly before the election-day, by a delegation from the European Parliament. Locally-recruited short-term observers (LSTOs) from EU member states’ embassies in Dili and Jakarta may also join the EU EOM in the run-up to the election.

The mission is independent of any EU institution or member state. Its purpose is to offer an impartial assessment of the elections and their compliance with Timor-Leste's international and regional commitments and obligations with regard to democratic elections, as well as with Timor-Leste law.

The EU EOM is to issue a preliminary statement shortly after the Legislative Elections. A final report, with recommendations for future elections, will be published later. The members of the mission remain neutral and abide by the EU election observation code of conduct and Timorese law.


The role of European election observation

The purpose of EU EOMs around the world is to provide support for the development of a country's democratic institutions and procedures, and to assist partner countries in their objective to hold elections of a high standard. In this context the EU EOM conducts a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and provides an impartial and informed assessment of the elections.

The fundamental principles of any EU EOM are set out in a communication from the European Commission on EU election assistance and observation:

"International election observation is based on the principles of full coverage, impartiality, transparency and professionalism. Its ultimate objective is to become superfluous by entrenching democracy deep within each nation through development of national capacities. Its main goals are the legitimisation of an electoral process, where appropriate, and the enhancement of public confidence in the electoral process, to deter fraud, to strengthen respect for human rights, and to contribute to the resolution of conflict."

Excerpt from: Communication from the European Commission on EU election assistance and observation, Brussels, 11 April 2000, COM (2000) 191 final .


What European election observation missions observe

An Election Observation Mission assesses all aspects of the electoral process: the registration of voters and candidates, the training of election staff, voter education, the campaign activities of the candidates and political parties, coverage of the media, the preparations for polling, as well as the complaints and appeals process. It also assesses the electoral framework. On election day, observers visit polling stations in order to observe the opening of the stations, voting and counting.

The EU EOM's Chief Observer is supported by a core team which is deployed in-country about four weeks prior to election day, with long-term observers observing the preparations for the election at the regional level. The short-term observers then arrive shortly before the elections in order to increase the observation capacities of the mission during polling and counting.


The methodology of European election observation

An EOM does not interfere in the electoral process and has no authority to change, improve or correct any shortcomings or to request changes during the election process. The EOM has the mandate only to collect, verify and analyse information concerning the election process and to publish its findings.

EU EOMs are established only following an invitation from the government of the observed country.

Regular meetings are held with election officials at national, regional and local levels, with political parties, candidates, civil society and the media throughout the country.

Observers clearly distinguish between complaints, rumours, accusations and verified facts. Only facts that are witnessed or verified by the observers will be used as the basis of the mission's report. Furthermore, although the mission co-operates with other organisations, only information collected by its own international observers will be used for the mission's statement and final report.

A few days following the elections, the Chief Observer of the EU EOM issues a public preliminary statement based on long-term and short-term observations of the entire process. Approximately two months after the final results, a comprehensive report is issued, which will include a series of recommendations.

The assessment of the elections is based on seven key criteria that have been adopted by the European Union in assessing the quality of elections. These are:

  • The degree of impartiality shown by the election administration,
  • The degree of freedom of political parties and candidates to assemble and express their views,
  • The fairness of access to state resources made available for the election,
  • The degree of access for political parties and candidates to the media, in particular the state media,
  • The universal franchise afforded to voters,
  • Any other issue which concerns the democratic nature of the election, e.g. campaign violence, rule of law, legislative framework,
  • The conduct of polling and counting of votes.

Since 2000, the EU has organised more than 90 EOMs across the world in over 54 countries.


Introduction to media monitoring

Media monitoring will be conducted using international methodological standards of quantitative and qualitative analysis. The media monitoring has a specific focus on the coverage of the media against principles including the right of access, allocation of coverage and balance in the mass media.

The monitoring unit will observe media coverage of the elections in order to assess:

  • The access granted to candidates, political parties and coalitions in the mass media and whether the coverage of candidates, political parties and coalitions is fair and balanced;
  • Whether candidates, political parties and coalitions standing for election were covered in a unbiased and equitable manner;
  • The tone of media coverage towards the candidates, political parties and coalitions.

The monitoring will cover a representative sample of broadcast and print media. The audiovisual media will be monitored daily during peak time viewing and listening throughout the period of the election. The print media will also be monitored on a daily basis.

As well as measuring the time and space allocated to political actors, parties and candidates, the media unit will also measure the tone of media coverage according to a three level scale (positive, negative and neutral) in order to assess the overall tone of the media outlets towards contestants and the different political parties.

There will be a team of local media monitors trained in quantitative analysis monitoring a representative sample of media in Timor -Leste. The media monitoring will inform the EU EOM on the performance of the media through regular reports and it will also form part of the overall evaluation of the election process.


Media monitoring methodology

The methodology employed for the media monitoring is both quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative component of the monitoring consists of a content analysis of a representative sample of media outlets. Radio, television and newspapers will all be included in the sample and will be monitored on a daily basis.


Broadcast media

Radio and television will be monitored during peak time viewing hours and will include monitoring of all programming within this time framework. The programmes will be timed by the monitors in order to measure the access that each candidate and political party receive on each of the channels. Furthermore, quantifying the amount of coverage each candidate receives will be complemented with an assessment of the tone of the coverage received based on a scale of negative, neutral and positive. The monitoring will also assess balance and tone of news and current affairs programmes to assess the extent they provide adequate and balanced coverage of candidates.


Print media

Newspapers will be monitored daily to assess the coverage of candidates and parties standing for election. As is the case with broadcast media the tone, access and balance of coverage will be assessed during the media monitoring.


Final Report


Press Releases


EU Observation Documents

This list of documents is provided for the reader's better understanding on International Election Assistance and Observation.