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MONITORING THE MEDIA DURING
ELECTION CAMPAIGN IN KOSOVO
 
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Democracy in Action activities

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26 May 2014

Campaign Starts Prematurely - Public Resources Abused



As in previous elections, the coalition of non-governmental organizations, Democracy in Action (DiA) is monitoring the process of electoral preparations, including the work of election management bodies and the campaign of political parties. DiA has already engaged 60 long-term observers who are following the pre-election campaign of contending political entities, the work of the Municipal Election Commission (MEC) and is committed to recruiting observers who will monitor the Election Day.

1. “Pre-election campaign” of political parties

Democracy in Action (DiA) assesses that political entities are not respecting the Law on General Elections and the decision of the CEC for the duration of the election campaign. DiA considers that the beginning of electoral activities of political entities before the official start of the election campaign is an indication of misuse of unclear provisions in the law.
DiAis also concerned regarding the use of public resources for campaign purposes. The political parties in power are mostly utilizing such practices, even though this issue is prohibited by the Code of Conduct for Political Entities, which in its Article 5 states that:

“A person who holds public office, elected or appointed, cannot use that office or any of its assets in order to gain votes. No resource of any institution of public administration, whether central or local, or any enterprise owned or controlled by central or local authorities, can be used or applied in support of any political party in elections”.

DiA's observers also report that in some municipalities, public administration employees, namely civil servants, have interrupted their work schedule for the purpose of taking part in an electoral activity. Such actions should be terminated because they are in violation of applicable laws in the Republic of Kosovo.

2. Monitoring the work of election management bodies

2.1 Central Election Commission

DiA has continuously monitored the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and during the election periods the work of the Municipal Election Commissions (MECs). Democracy in Action monitors,to date, have not found any irregularities.While DiA is fully committed that public money is not misused, the disruption of public information campaign, just days before the election, is not in favor of the election process. We should recall that in past elections over 10 % of votes cast were invalid votes and this is mainly due to the lack of information that voters have about how to vote. In this aspect, DiArequests the Procurement Review Body (PRB) to handle this case with priority and finds anurgentsolution to unblock the voter information campaign.
DIA's observers have also noted that in the last two meetings of the CEC, the chairwoman of this institution, Ms. ValdeteDaka, has not been present. Given that the Election Dayis around the corner and that Ms. Daka is the only non-political person in CEC, we encourage her to be more proactive in this period.

2.2Municipal Election Commissions

In most municipalities of Kosovo, Municipal Election Commissions (MECs) are still not organizing formal meetings according to the legal obligations of the Law on General Elections. Based on information from DIA's observers, several meetings of MECs are being held spontaneously and in non-institutional setup. The lack of information about the timing of meetings, the lack of records and the lack of copies of decisions have left citizens of Kosovo without the necessary information concerning activities for the organization and administration of elections by local authorities as subordinates of CEC.

2.3. Training of PSCs

Given that the training of election commissioners has been one of the weakest points of previous elections, DiA has urged the Central Election Commission to thoroughly monitor municipalities and prevent commissioners who did not attend the trainingfrom working during Election Day. Based on a report published by the CEC, at least 4% of the total votes declared invalid in previous elections were valid. In this regard, political parties need to assume some responsibility as they are the ones who nominate commissioners who do not have adequate skills to perform such a task.

3. Calls to political parties and CEC

In order for the electoral campaign to take place in a peaceful and competitive environment, DIA calls upon all political parties to respect all normative acts regulating the conduct of political entities during the election campaign.
DiAalso calls on the CEC to pay particular attention to the training process of the commissioners, by offering them professional trainings in order to ensure the election process on Election Day.

4. DIA’s preparations

Coalition of NGOs Democracy in Action, with the aim of monitoring the activities of the "pre-campaign", the electoral campaign and preparations for the organization and administration of the electoral process by the CEC and other relevant bodies, has engaged 90 long-term observers, 30 of which will be from organizations of persons with special needs. On Election Day 2,800 observers will be engaged, 350 of which will be from organizations of persons with special needs. For the first time, Democracy in Action has made an official partnership with Handikos so that persons with disabilities participate in election observation in a larger scale. These observers will monitor the course of the election campaign and voting, where emphasis will be placed on the opportunities that the election administration institutions provide to this category for the realization of the democratic right to vote.
DiA also will have about 130 volunteers engaged in call center and receiving results.
In this electoral process,as in previous elections,Democracy in Action will partner with the Soros Foundation and will offer citizens the opportunity to send free SMS messages to report any irregularities they encounter in the election process in the number: 500 88.
During the election campaign DiA will call regular press conferences where the media will be informed about the developments of the electoral campaign.
The mission of domestic observation of elections for Kosovo Assembly is funded by USAID, IFES, the Norwegian Embassy in Kosovo and the Soros Foundation.