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EU Election Observation Mission presents final report on the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly elections, with recommendations for future elections

20.03.2018
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Kathmandu, 20 March 2018The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for Nepal’s House ofRepresentatives and Provincial Assembly elections today submitted its final report containing29 proposals for reform to improve the electoral process.The Chief Observer of the EU EOM, Željana Zovko, a Member of the European Parliament,returned to Nepal on 18 March to present the final report to the Government of Nepal, theElection Commission of Nepal, political parties, observer groups and civil societyorganisations. “I am very pleased to present our final report as it brings together the findingsand analysis of our observations over the period the mission was in Nepal, as well ascomprehensive recommendations for future elections,” said Ms Zovko at a press conference inKathmandu today.“They are addressed to the relevant institutions – the Election Commission of Nepal, theGovernment of Nepal, political parties, civil society and other key stakeholders. The EuropeanUnion remains committed to work with Nepalese partners on strengthening the democraticprocess of the country, and will continue to take a keen interest in electoral reform here in thecoming months and years.”Overall, the 26 November and 7 December elections represented a key milestone in theimplementation of the 2015 Constitution, with the legal framework providing a good basis forthe conduct of elections. However, a great deal of the body of electoral law was enacted lessthan three months before the elections, which meant that there was insufficient time fordissemination or appraisal.

Political freedoms - including the right to vote and to stand for election, and freedoms ofassociation, assembly and expression – are well-respected in law and, despite a series ofviolent attacks against candidates, these political freedoms prevailed during the campaign.The quota system, in an effort to promote gender and social inclusion, also includes groupsthat are already well-represented. This is arguably in contravention of international standardson equality, as affirmative action measures are foreseen only as a means to promote equality.Although the Election Commission of Nepal (ECN) performed its duties impartially, enjoyingpublic confidence, its work lacked transparency. There was, for example, no mechanism forregular consultations with election stakeholders, and the ECN failed to publish criticalinformation on polling centre turnout and invalid votes. There were also proceduralweaknesses, particularly in relation to the reconciliation of ballots. Voter education was alsoinadequate, in some areas non-existent.The ECN had extensive powers to punish violations of the Election Code of Conduct, includingby fines and disqualification, yet it dealt with complaints in a largely informal manner,requesting that those in violation stop the behaviour complained of. This lack of enforcementundermined the integrity of the Code. Allegations that both cash and in-kind gifts were givento voters circulated widely, but not a single prosecution for vote-buying was initiated.Positively, a voter registration drive resulted in 1.37 million new registrants, the candidatenomination process was well-conducted, and the media environment during the campaignperiod was generally free, although a few cases of limitations on freedom of expression andthe freedom of the press were observed.The report makes 29 recommendations for consideration, but suggests priority attention isgiven to the following 10 recommendations:1. Review the impact of the quota system on the ethnic composition of the House ofRepresentatives and provincial assemblies and ensure that measures of affirmativeaction apply only to groups that are the subject of negative discrimination.2. Enhance the transparency of the ECN by regular consultations with stakeholders, andthe timely publication of all information of public interest.3. Launch extensive voter education sufficiently in advance of elections, in all languagesused in Nepal.4. Review first-past-the-post constituency boundaries to ensure more equal suffrage.5. Relax voter registration transfer requirements so people living in rentedaccommodation and informal settlements can transfer their voter registration.6. Enforce the law in order to stop vote-buying.7. Produce a less restrictive Code of Conduct, including provisions for the allocation offree airtime to political parties/candidates in the public media.8. Introduce administrative procedures to accord priority to election-related cases filedwith the Supreme Court.9. Enhance the transparency of the results process by the swift publication of pollingcentre turnout data and constituency counting tables, as well as by distribution ofcopies of the constituency counting tables to party and candidate agents.10. Introduce meaningful reconciliation procedures in polling and counting directives.The EU EOM was present in Nepal between 25 October 2017 and 3 January 2018, followinginvitations from the Government of Nepal and the ECN. In total, the mission deployed over100 observers from all 28 EU member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland. It assessedthe extent to which the electoral process complied with international and regionalcommitments for elections, as well as with the laws of Nepal.The final report is available in English and Nepali; only the English version is official.It is available at: www.eomnepal.euENDSFor further information, please contact:Sarah Fradgley, EU EOM Press OfficerMobile: + 977 9801237603Email : sarah.fradgley@eomnepal.eu

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