The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today received the verbal reports on the Electoral Observation Missions (EOM) to the presidential and general elections that took place in Antigua and Barbuda on June 12, and in Costa Rica on February 2 and April 6.
Report on the EOM in Antigua and Barbuda:
The report on the general elections in Antigua and Barbuda was presented by the Chief of Mission designated by the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, Rosina Wiltshire, who highlighted “the extraordinary commitment of women and men with the electoral process noticeable in the large number of citizens waiting to cast their vote in all polling centers, resulting in an extremely high turnout that reached 90.27%.”
The Chief of the EOM reported that during the pre-electoral period, the Mission met with the main political actors, among them the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission, the Governor General Louise Lake-Tack, then-Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, and leader of the opposition Gaston Browne, representatives from all political parties, ambassadors, NGOs, labor unions, church representatives, police officials, members of the Chamber of Commerce, and other electoral missions.
Wiltshire said that in these meetings, the EOM heard concerns about the high level of spending on campaigns, the low level of representation of women as candidates, the imbalance of voters across constituencies, the absence of a process of continuous registration, the delivery of new voter identification cards, and the need to name a seventh member of the Electoral Commission, among others.
The Chief of Mission presented in her report a list of recommendations “with the purpose of supporting the continuous efforts of Antigua and Barbuda to strengthen their democracy and electoral system.” Among them, she highlighted the need to publish voter lists outside each voting center; the counting of the votes at the polling stations under adequate supervision and the transmission of electoral results through computer networks; the design and publication of an updated website to better promote information about the electoral process; the restitution of the continuous registration process by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission; the promotion of reforms to address the low level of representation of women as candidates; and legislative actions to increase transparency in the financing of campaigns and political parties.
In her conclusion, the Chief of Mission thanked Argentina, Bolivia, Spain, Chile, France, Serbia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and South Korea for their contributions to the EOM.
For her part, the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS, Deborah-Mae Lovell thanked Secretary General Insulza for the deployment of the EOM, and the Chief of Mission for her comprehensive report, and she committed to transmitting its recommendations to her capital.
Secretary General Insulza thanked the Chief of Mission for her work and that of the EOM, and highlighted the points in the report that demonstrate the need to constantly improve elections, “a very important issue for the region.” “We must be ready to cooperate as much as the countries need in order to resolve the new problems that arise and that the citizens identify as possible obstacles in the development of democracy,” said the Secretary General, who congratulated the new Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, and expressed his gratitude to the outgoing leader Baldwin Spencer for his constant support for the OAS.
Report on the EOM in Costa Rica:
In the same regular meeting, the Permanent Council received the verbal report of the EOM to the recent general elections in Costa Rica, held on February 2 in the first round, and April 6 in the second, in which Costa Ricans elected the President, Vice President and 57 Deputies to the Legislative Assembly of the country. The Chief of Mission, Josefina Vásquez Mota, noted in her report that in the realization of its tasks, the OAS team “privileged the implementation of methodologies to observe political financing, access to the media, and conditions of equality for the participation of men and women throughout the electoral process.”
In her conclusions, the Chief of Mission highlighted “the high level of professionalism and technical expertise with which the electoral process was conducted, the opportune and diligent actions of the Supreme Tribunal of Elections dealing with situations that arose, and in particular the strengthening of means to guarantee the integrity of the electoral process. The Mission also congratulates the citizens of Costa Rica, who, despite unprecedented political conditions in the country, showed once again their civic and democratic traditions.”
At the end of the report, and “seeking to contribute to the continuous strengthening of the electoral processes in Costa Rica,” the Chief of Mission presented a series of recommendations, among them: evaluate the implementation of legislation of free bandwidth in the media for political parties during the electoral campaign; analyze the possibility of delivering public financing to parties ahead of time; consider integral strategies within the parties that contribute to the development and incentivizing of female leaders within their ranks; strengthen the mechanisms for increasing the electoral participation of voters abroad; continue promoting efforts to increase electoral participation; and that parties maintain their activities of articulating and integrating the interests and preferences of the citizenry between elections.
Chief of Mission Vásquez Mota thanked, on behalf of the EOM, Bolivia, Chile, the United States, France, Israel and Luxembourg for their contributions to the Mission.
For his part, the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS, Edgar Ugalde, thanked the Mission for its work and the presentation of the report, which “will make its way into the hands of people who will pay attention to its recommendations.” “There is a great will to take on the recommendations and improve the system,” said Ambassador Ugalde upon concluding his address.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.