PA President Emeritus Kanerva stresses need for confidence in electoral systems at seminar on election observation

COPENHAGEN, 2 November 2016 – Ilkka Kanerva, OSCE PA President Emeritus and Special Coordinator of the OSCE’s short term observers of the recent Russian elections, delivered an address today at the OSCE/ODIHR seminar on election observation and follow up of recommendations, underlining the importance of elections in maintaining and developing a democratic society, particularly given growing disillusionment with established political norms.

“One of our major challenges today is how to deal with the crisis of democracy itself. Low turnout and the inability to form governments are signs of growing disbelief in the very system that was meant to give everyone a voice. In order to be valid, democracy and elections depend on the people’s confidence in the electoral system”, said the President Emeritus, speaking in Vienna.

“In a genuinely open society that respects the rule of law there are no wrong outcomes in elections, there is only the will of the people”, continued Kanerva. “Elections must be real and pluralistic. By this I mean that those who want to see change must have a real and realistic possibility to actually bring it about.”

The one-day seminar brings together experts and practitioners in the field of elections and election observation to discuss challenges and best practices related to the implementation of election related commitments. High-level speakers include Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE/ODIHR, Ella Pamfilova, Chairperson of the Russian Central Election Commission, and Ambassador Jan Petersen, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR’s election observation mission to the September 2016 Russian parliamentary elections.

Summing up his remarks, Kanerva argued that in the end, democratic elections are not about giving power to some to do what they want. “It is a mandate from the people to develop the society in a certain direction. In a fair and pluralistic election system, that mandate can and should be lost if decisions fail to reflect the will of the people. So far we have not come up with a better system than democracy.”

OSCE PA Special Representative Amb. Andreas Nothelle also spoke at the conference, delivering a presentation on OSCE Commitments, International Obligations and Other Standards for Democratic Elections. “Election observation will never be a judicial or a scientific process, it remains an assessment by experienced experts based on observations gathered in the best possible professional way. The international community should invest much more in the development of our quite primitive international system in order to inject into it elements of democratic representation and judicial review and redress,” he stated.

The preliminary statement of the observer mission for the September 2016 parliamentary elections in Russia can be found here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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