BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Election in Czech Republic 2002: details of the campaign
HITS: 2120 | 14-04-2005, 05:01 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Czech Republic , Elections, Political science

The election campaign was low key. Czech TV fulfilled its duties and broadcast the parties’ election programmes. However, the print media was generally hostile to the ODS – as pointed out, it is the second most popular party in the Czech Republic (and the one that led in opinion polls until weeks before the election) yet it has no newspaper outlet.

Fewer posters were on display than in 1998 and most were dull and uninspiring. The most unappealing posters were those of the ODS which featured close-up shots of Václav Klaus whose cold, steely eyes peered over sinister rimless glasses – hardly a heart-warming image. The party also covered lamp posts and walls in Prague with silly leaflets warning of a return to proto-Communist rule if the ČSSD returned to power.

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Ireland votes: Observation of the poll
HITS: 1938 | 5-06-2003, 07:59 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Ireland , Elections

BHHRG was able to observe several polling stations on the day of the poll in County Dublin. The principal point of interest was the introduction of a new electronic voting system. Voters present themselves at a desk, as would be customary for any normal vote, and are then issued with a ticket which they take and present to someone sitting next to the voting machine. This enables them to go behind it and cast their vote.
At the beginning of the voting day, a print-out is taken showing that the chip in each voting machine registers zero. Equally, at the end of the day, a print-out is again taken, this time showing the number of votes cast at each voting station, but not the way they were cast.

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The US Midterm Election 2002
HITS: 9705 | 29-11-2002, 09:39 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Politics, Elections

Florida state law specifies that the only persons allowed inside the polling stations while voting is taking place are:
The Supervisor of Elections or the Deputy Supervisor of Elections (county officials who are the equivalent of regional or district election commission chairmen)
Clerk and Assistant Clerks (equivalent of precinct election commission chairman and deputies)
Inspectors (precinct election commission workers who verify identity and authorize voters to receive ballots)
Poll Deputies (civilian officials who maintain order around the polling station)
Poll watchers (equivalent of election observers)
Poll watchers must be certified by the Supervisor of Elections and must be designated by a candidate, political party, or “political committee.”

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Swedish General Election 2002
HITS: 2686 | 30-10-2002, 04:20 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Sweden , Politics, Elections

Sweden is one of Europe's oldest democracies, but are its elections as correct and fair as the country's reputation would suggest...
This Group’s election observers are often asked by ordinary voters in the post-Communist societies where much of the BHHRG’s activities take place whether there aren’t enough problems back home in the West to keep them occupied. Unlike some other human rights groups, the BHHRG’s observers have never operated on the presumption that they come from states of perfection to observe others. As readers will remember, this Group suggested that serious flaws are apparent in the existing British electoral system and that they are likely to be worsened by proposals to make voter turnout rather than ballot security the key criterion in future regulation of elections in the U.K.
A Swedish correspondent, who shares an interest in much of the Group’s monitoring of human rights and democracy in the Balkans especially, suggested that the BHHRG should monitor aspects of the forthcoming Swedish general election. Along with several other academics, journalists, lawyers and political activists, he suggested that the run-up to the polls on 15th September, 2002, would be a suitable time to study what was happening in the Swedish general election campaign but also some of the controversial issues omitted by common consent of the parties already sitting in the Riksdag.

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Italian Elections 2001
HITS: 2319 | 16-05-2001, 20:07 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Italy , Foreign media, Elections

One of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group’s regular election observers was in Italy for the general election on 13th May, 2001. He saw no evidence of fraud and no substantial allegations of it were made. This election saw efforts by the foreign media to influence the outcome.
  
The media versus democracy?
  
One of the British Helsinki Human Rights Group’s regular election observers was in Italy for the general election on 13th May, 2001. There was widespread chaos towards the close of the poll, as many more eligible voters appeared at polling stations than had been expected by the officials of the Ministry of the Interior. Despite this, he saw no evidence of fraud and no substantial allegations of it were made. The election was also controversial because of efforts by the foreign media to influence the outcome. Not since 1948, when the young CIA strained every muscle to prevent a Communist victory at the polls, had Italian voters been subject to so much pressure from abroad to discourage them from voting for a change of regime, in this case from a government led by the reform-Communists to one from the centre-right. Below, the Group’s rapporteur considers the role of the media as the main issue of the Italian elections.
Italy versus the World, or at least its media
I don’t think we’re arrogant. We’re a Marxist-style collective really – we’re the most pro-free market collective ever invented. Globalisation is here to stay and we are the house magazine of globalisation.”
Bill Emmott, Editor in chief of The Economist and critic of Silvio Berlusconi  

On 13th May 2001, Italy held elections to both houses of parliament and to several large municipalities. The election represented a considerable advance in the quality of Italian democracy, to the extent that two large multi-party blocs, each with its own clearly designated candidate for prime minister and clearly defined political programme, confronted one another. This was an improvement on the old system, where the voters voted but found that leadership and policy of the national government was decided behind closed doors after the election, and where the leader was frequently changed in the middle of a parliamentary term. Indeed, the victory of the Berlusconi coalition in these elections can be seen as a first in Italian democracy, to the extent that it is the first time that one political government has been thrown out at an election and replaced by a political government of the opposite political complexion. (The 1994 and 1996 elections, which brought to power, respectively, a right-wing and a left-wing government, came after periods of “technical” government.)
Despite these democratic advances, the world’s media made extraordinary efforts to present the election as the beginning of the end of Italian democracy. Indeed, CNN and other international media over-egged the pudding by repeatedly reported Italy was heading for its 58th since 1945, while omitting to comment on the fact that Italian politics has shown a marked increase in stability since electoral reform promoted a largely first-past-the-post electoral system after Silvio Berlusconi won the 1994 general election. The media campaign alleging that Italian democracy was in danger was launched simultaneously in various high-profile if little-read journals in Britain, France and the United States against the leader of the Italian right, Silvio Berlusconi. Mr. Berlusconi may be by far and away Italy’s leading media magnate but on a global scale he was definitely outgunned by the united international media onslaught. Given these foreign television news stations’ and newspapers’ ability to overlook or even endorse candidates in other countries accused of worse crimes than Mr. Berlusconi, their vociferous attacks on him raised serious doubt about the objectivity of these organs.

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Parliamentary Elections in Croatia
HITS: 1957 | 14-03-2001, 19:23 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Croatia, Elections, Political science

The results of the parliamentary elections held in Croatia on 3rd January mean that there is likely to be a major shift in future government policy. BHHRG monitored the poll and while its observers found it to be conducted properly, concerns remain about certain aspects of the election.
Introduction and background
Parliamentary Elections in Croatia, 3rd January 2000

The Republic of Croatia held parliamentary elections on 3rd January 2000. These were the third since independence was declared in 1991 and the fourth multiparty elections since 1990. The elections were awaited with anticipation by the United States and European Union, in particular, which had long criticized the outgoing government, especially for an alleged "democratic deficit.". The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) had ruled the country since 1990. Its members had been elected to all key posts from the Presidency to a majority in local government. Following the death of President Franjo Tudjman on 10th December, 1999, the 3rd January elections were widely seen as the first serious opportunity for a democratically based change of power, especially as Presidential elections were scheduled soon afterwards for 24th January. (Full results of the Parliamentary elections were released on 19th January 2000.)

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