25 Mar 2006

Exporting Legitimacy: The Record of EU Election Observation in the context of EU Democracy Support

Michael Meyer-Resende

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Over the last five years, the EU has sent more than 35 Election Observation Missions (EOMs) around the world. EOMs are often the most visible part of the EU’s efforts to promote democracy abroad and carry consequences for the EU’s overall policy towards a given country. While the methods and techniques of observing elections are well established, the linkage between the findings of observers and general political follow-up by the EU can be weak, in particular in cases where observers report significant flaws. The EU should be more coherent in these cases. The EU should also better address deterioration of democratic standards in its own member states, in order to maintain its credibility in this field. Given that the EU promotes a rule-based multilateral world order, it should have every interest in the legitimacy of its partner governments and the upholding of legally binding global standards for elections.
The author, Michael Meyer-Resende, is an elections expert and co-founder of Democracy Reporting International.