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OSCE issues nine recommendations for Cyprus elections

President Anastasiades waves to supporters during the elections

The Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recommended Cyprus review its electoral legal framework and abolish mandatory voter registration in its final report on the Presidential elections held in 2018, published on Tuesday.

Nine priority recommendations and eight other recommendations were noted in the report on the elections held on January 28 and February 4.

The 17 recommendations are offered with a view to “further enhance the conduct of elections in Cyprus and to support efforts to bring them fully in line with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards for democratic elections” according to the organisation’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The mission of OSCE observers was made up of seven members, who monitored both rounds of the elections.

“The 2018 presidential election took place against the backdrop of the stalemate in the efforts to find a solution to the division of the island, the 2013 financial crisis, and ensuing financial and social challenges,” the OSCE said.

According to ODIHR, the election was administered in a highly professional, efficient and transparent manner.

The OSCE noted that consideration should be given to conducting a comprehensive review of the electoral legal framework well in advance of the next elections to further harmonise, clarify and update respective laws.

In another recommendation the organisation said that authorities should consider enacting further measures to ensure the equal participation of voters with disabilities.

Voter registration should also be abolished, according to the OSCE’s report. The organisation said that Cyprus should “consider passive voter registration on the basis of the civil registry,” while the registration deadline should be closer to election day.

To enhance fair electoral competition, the OSCE said consideration could be given to amending the legal framework to further define campaign contributions, including in-kind, and the method of their valuation, setting reasonable limits on the amount, source and type of contribution.

The OSCE also noted that clarification is needed on oversight and monitoring functions regarding campaign finance, while the level of enforcement should be enhanced, so that oversight authorities have due competence and resources to detect violations and apply sanctions.

The report said that legislation should be revised to remove the subjective criteria for candidacy, while authorities could consider possible legislative measures to facilitate a more balanced participation of women and men in political and public life.

The OSCE also noted that fair treatment provisions for candidates could be harmonised in a single pre-election period and applied to all broadcasters, overseen by a single independent regulator, while “consideration could be given to the introduction of minimum guaranteed coverage for each candidate.”

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