This is the second in a series of guest blogs by Global Integrity’s Norah Mallaney. The first one is available here.
For election monitoring in Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) provides the fairest assessment, at least in the eyes of the West, as they chronicle the many flaws in Eastern European elections. But the former-Soviet bloc does its own election monitoring, and their results… well, they can’t seem to find any problems at all.
The OSCE analysis of elections in post-Soviet nations have continually conflicted with the results of monitoring by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Moscow-based confederation of former Soviet states. While the CIS was created as an upstart alternative to the USSR, the Commonwealth and its member states still operate in the shadow of the Kremlin, placing doubt on the “independence” that the organization’s title suggests.
As part of an ongoing series on the influence of the Kremlin, a New York Times reporter followed an election monitor from this organization of post-Soviet states; an experience that confirmed the illegitimacy of the Commonwealth of Independent States’ assessment.
The election monitor profiled in the story is a political figure from Tajikistan, sent to Belarus for the September 2008 elections. According to the New York Times, he went from polling station to polling station asking questions like: “Everything’s OK here?” or “Issues? Violations?” with the tone of “a casual sightseer.” Despite his role in their September elections, he admitted a lack of knowledge of Belorussian politics. Even so, this election observer and his umbrella organization pronounced the elections in Belarus “fair and democratic” without mentioning any of the concerns discussed in the OSCE analysis.