On May 6, the Delegation of the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities held a press conference in Yerevan. The delegation conducted an observation mission of the May 5 elections to Yerevan Council of Elders. Stewart Dickson, Head of the delegation, presented the preliminary conclusions of the mission. According to the observers, “with the exception of a few incidents, in those polling stations visited by the observation team of the Congress, the vote was carried out in a calm and orderly manner and the elections were technically well prepared”.
The CoE observation mission particularly pointed out: “The cameras present in each polling station and the practice of extensive filming by different stakeholders: on the one hand this adds to the transparency of the process. However, members of the Congress believe that this could be counter-productive and instead of increasing transparency – as it was meant to be – create mistrust among voters about overly-controlled electoral processes.”
Stewart Dickson also mentioned “the extensive number of domestic observers present in polling stations”. “In the majority of the cases, we were unsure about a number of local NGOs and media outlets; their intentions remain ambiguous to the members of our delegation and it could be suggested that these observers were also acting on behalf of political parties or alliances”, stressed the Head of delegation.
Stewart Dickson reminded that Armenia is taking over the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe soon. On behalf of the Congress, he encouraged the Armenian authorities “to seize the opportunity of this Chairmanship and go ahead with further improvements of the legal framework, the electoral practice and the environment in which elections take place”.