Elections under pandemic-related restrictions

AEGEE Election Observation will suspend the deployment of election observers until further notice. This particularly affects the EOM to Serbia, which we hope to reschedule as soon as a new election date is announced.

As efforts to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 („corona virus“) continue, an number of concerns arise regarding the conduct of elections and democratic processes more generally.

In principle, elections embody the right of citizens to periodically choose their representatives, and governments should not use the current emergency as an excuse to unduly extend expiring mandates.

However, both the presence of a serious health risk as well as the resulting widespread restrictions on the freedoms of movement and assembly may substantially undermine individuals’ participation. In very general, this could have an adverse effect on:

  • electoral logistics, and especially the staffing of polling stations on election day;
  • the participation of voters, in particular of those that belong to so-called „risk groups“;
  • electoral campaigns, where especially lesser-known candidates may face serious disadvantages.

All of these factors may, to various extents, compromise the legitimacy of an election’s (or a referendum’s) outcome. It is therefore of crucial importance that governments act responsibly when deciding whether or not to postpone upcoming elections.

In Europe, this concerns, in particular, the following instances:

(postponed until further notice)

  • Italy, constitutional referendum of 29 March
  • Armenia, constitutional referendum of 5 April
  • Galicia and the Basque Country, regional elections of 5 April
  • North Macedonia, early parliamentary election of 12 April
  • Serbia, parliamentary election of 26 April

(not postponed)

  • Russia, constitutional referendum of 22 April
  • Poland, presidential election of 10 May

For further reading, we recommend this article by International IDEA.