GMF Breakfast Briefing: Electoral Integrity in Question: Lessons from Central Europe
- Nicola Schmidt, Director of Programmes, Democracy Reporting International, former Deputy Head of the ODIHR Elections Department
- Zsófia Banuta, Co-founder and Managing Director, Unhack Democracy
- Garvan Walshe, Co-founder and Chair, Unhack Democracy
- Daniel Hegedüs, Central Europe Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States
External meddling in democratic elections through information warfare, cyber threats, and financial support provided for anti-establishment, populist and radical parties has recently moved to the top of the political agenda in Western democracies, at the latest since the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and the Brexit referendum in the UK.
Yet while countering such external threats has become a priority, the internal erosion of democratic and electoral systems remains mostly overlooked.
“Free but not fair elections” that are characterized by a “pervasive overlap between state and ruling party resources undermining contestants’ ability to compete on an equal basis” and by “ruling party dominance over the public media that further amplifies their advantage” are unquestionably present in the EU but attract little political attention. Grassroots election monitors report even more striking electoral irregularities that border on plain electoral fraud.
How serious are the internal threats to the integrity of democratic elections in the EU, especially among its autocratizing member states? Is there a more general democratic demise, of which the erosion of electoral democracy is but one symptom? And is the current focus on the rule of law crisis underestimating threats to elections?
As key parliamentary and presidential elections are on the horizon in Central Europe in 2020, what can the European Union, international organizations and civil society do to guarantee that basic principles of democratic elections are not violated?
To register for the event, please contact Sophija Savtchouk at SSavtchouk@gmfus.org.