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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Apathy NOT fraud undermines Azerbaijans Parliamentary Election
HITS: 2296 | 17-11-2005, 18:43 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Azerbaijan, Elections

Apathy NOT fraud undermines Azerbaijan’s Parliamentary Election

Controversy surrounds Azerbaijan’s parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, the international media’s focus on the main opposition’s claims of “massive fraud” distract attention from the deeper crisis of legitimacy affecting all Azeri political parties. Barely 40% of registered voters took part in Sunday’s polls. Ordinary Azeris seem cynical about all politicians and their mass abstention sent the message “a plague on all your houses.”

Past performance by a governing elite universally accused of corruption in this potentially oil-rich society and by an opposition riven by personal rivalries barely disguised by the formation of several “united” fronts has led many Azeris to regard politics and politicians with open disdain.

This is a pity because it suggests an unhealthy outlook for Azerbaijan’s chances of establishing democracy, but also because the actual conduct of the elections and the counts in polling stations visited by this Group’s observers was of a high standard. Maybe if Azris had had more confidence in the candidates, many more of them would have voted, At the local level in their neighbourhood polling stations, the standard of conduct of the voting and counting should have given them reason to trust the ballot if they had really wanted to elect a candidate. (Final results are not yet available and so caution about the collation of results is naturally still in order.)

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Cyprus 2004: Parliamentary Election in TRNC
HITS: 2320 | 1-06-2004, 17:51 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Cyprus , Political science, Political leaders

BHHRG sent observers to monitor the conduct of the election itself held on 14th December 2003. As TRNC is an unrecognised state, official monitoring organizations like the OSCE as well as EU bodies were unwilling to send representatives to observe the poll. However, a group from the University of Oslo had been in TRNC for several months monitoring the campaign and a small number of German SPD MPs (including a member of Turkish Cypriot origin) attended the election itself. There were also two British observers, acknowledged supporters of TRNC.
7 parties contested the 50 seats in TRNC’s parliament. Elections are conducted by a complicated system of proportional representation which allows not only a vote for the bloc but also a preferential vote which can be for candidates from other parties. There is a 5% threshold for entry into parliament. By polling day, 141,479 electors had been registered.

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Estonia 2003 electoral issues: official and real
HITS: 2073 | 3-04-2003, 16:33 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Estonia , Elections, Political science

Background to the election
Estonia gained independence from the USSR on 6th Sept., 1991, a couple of weeks after the abortive coup attempt in Moscow against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. From this point onward, the Estonian Popular Front, founded in 1988, took the lead in political life. Led by Edgar Savisaar (now Mayor of Tallinn and leader of the Centre Party) and Marju Lauristin (now a leader of the Moderate Party), the Popular Front expanded to include various nationalist parties such as the staunchly anti-Communist “Pro Patria Union” led by one-time prime minister Mart Laar. Eventually the Popular Front disintegrated into the plethora of parties visible in Estonia today, and the republic began its post-independence political life of endlessly shifting coalitions.
There was not much to distinguish the leading parties competing in the 2nd March election from each other. The Moderates, Centre Party, Reform Party, Res Publica and Pro Patria all agreed on issues such as NATO and EU entry, privatization and continuation of the present discriminatory policies towards the Russian minority. The People’s Union finessed their position on the EU question somewhat by stating that it would not support entry into a ‘federal Europe’. A smaller entity, the Independence Party had a different profile being opposed to EU membership, but as it is regularly attacked for neo-fascism, it never surmounts the 5% threshold necessary to gain a seat in parliament.

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A report on the second Irish Referendum on the Nice Treaty
HITS: 1882 | 5-06-2002, 06:40 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Ireland , PR and human rights, Politics

On 19th October, the Republic of Ireland held a second referendum on the Nice treaty. That treaty, signed at Nice in December 2000, restructures the European Union, ostensibly with the aim of permitting the accession of 10 new member states in 2004. The first Irish referendum on Nice, which had been held in June 2001, had produced a clear negative result, to which the Irish government reacted by telling the other EU member states to press ahead with their ratification processes. This they duly did, and so when the Irish government put the same treaty before the Irish electorate a second time, a fait accompli had been created, in which Ireland was the only country not to have ratified the text. All other EU states ratified the treaty through parliamentary means. It is a sad reflection on the state of democracy in Europe that the only country to have held a democratic vote on this latest stage in the EU integration process should have deliberately ignored the results of a perfectly legitimate vote in 2001, only to submit the text again a year later. It goes without saying that referendums which produce Yes results are never run a second time.

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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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