EU observers express satisfaction on overall conduct of general election in Pakistan

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Pakistan on Friday expressed satisfaction on overall conduct of the general election, saying efforts of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were impressive and appreciable.
The Observation Mission, led by its Chief Observer, Michael Gahler while addressing a press conference here said observers visited as many as 582 polling stations in 113 constituencies and he had also personally visited many polling stations. “We observed there was an improvement as compared to the previous election held in 2013.”
Election day was orderly with a preliminary turnout of 52 per cent despite two deadly attacks on polling stations in Balochistan, and regional clashes between party supporters, he said.
EU observers noted the presence of security personnel inside and outside the polling stations did not interfere in electoral process.At times, they checked voter ID cards and directed voters to the right queue.
Gahler said, voting was assessed as well-conducted and transparent, However, counting was sometimes problematic, with staff not always following procedures and difficulties were observed in completing the results’ forms.
The Result Transmission System (RTS) encountered technical problems in submission of results from polling stations and thus returning officers were not able to receive original result forms and report in a timely manner to the ECP on the progress of results. The ECP explained that the RTS had not been tested in Pakistan before.
Several interlocutors pointed out that the campaign was dominated by candidates with large political appeal and financial means, the so called “electables” 34 smaller parties complained they could not keep pace with large national parties, especially regarding expensive political advertising, even if the law sought to curtail unfair advantages.
Positively, the EU EOM praised the work of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over the last few years. It complimented the ECP on the many initiatives that it had taken to improve accountability and transparency, including the participation of women and minorities.
The mission said that levels of confidence in the ECP had undoubtedly increased due to regular consultations with political parties and civil society organisations.
On July 25, over 120 EU observers observed the opening, voting, counting and tabulation processes at 582 polling stations and tabulation centres in 113 constituencies in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad. In the polling stations observed, security personnel were present inside and outside all polling stations.
However, as should be the case in a civilian exercise, the mission observed that it was the presiding officers who were in charge.
The head of the European Parliament’s delegation to the election observation mission, Jean Lambert MEP (United Kingdom), fully endorsed the preliminary statement of the EU EOM.
She then addressed a number of issues relating to election day, including access to polling stations for voters with disabilities, and the participation of women in the elections.
“We appreciate the efforts made by the Election Commission to aim for greater inclusion in the electoral process, particularly through the Gender and Disabilities Working Group,” said Ms Lambert.
“We look forward to further progress. After all, the five per cent quota for women candidates is just a starting point, and more in winnable seats would be welcome.”
EU observers are continuing their observation in districts across the country. The mission will observe tabulation, the official announcement of results, as well as any complaints and appeals.
The EU EOM is the largest international observation mission in the country for the elections. It assessed the extent to which the electoral process complied with international and regional commitments for elections, as well as with the laws of Pakistan.
The mission will remain in Pakistan until September. Final report, including recommendations for future elections, will be published afterwards.
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) to Pakistan arrived in Islamabad on June 24. It was deployed after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) welcomed the presence of an observation mission for the general election.
The EUEOM comprises observers from all 28 EU member states. It consists of a core team of 10 election analysts based in Islamabad, and 60 long-term observers (LTOs) who were deployed to districts a week before election day.
A delegation of seven Members of the European Parliament also joined the mission, as did 41 diplomatic staff from EU member states’ embassies, plus those fromNorway, Switzerland and Canada.