NDI Encourages Lebanon to Seize the Opportunity of New Parliament to Strengthen Democratic Institutions
BEIRUT, Lebanon – The National Democratic Institute (NDI) today released its preliminary statement of findings and recommendations from its international election observation mission for Lebanon's 2018 parliamentary elections, held yesterday, May 6.
The NDI Lebanon international election observer delegation included 31 political and civic leaders, elections experts and regional specialists from 13 countries across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Leadership is comprised of Peter MacKay, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Defense and Attorney General, Canada; Birgitta Ohlsson, former Minister of European Affairs, Democracy and Consumer Rights, Sweden; Mohamed Ouzzine, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Morocco; Tamara Cofman Wittes, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, Center for Middle East Policy, USA; and Les Campbell, senior associate, Middle East & North Africa, NDI.
“The NDI delegation would like to congratulate the people of Lebanon for reaffirming their commitment to democratic institutions amidst instability in the region,” said Tamara Wittes. “It is our hope that these elections provide a new window of opportunity for engagement between citizens and newly-elected officials.”
The delegation stresses that official election results are not yet complete, and its statement, therefore, is preliminary in nature. NDI will continue to monitor the electoral process through its completion and will issue additional reports as appropriate.
“Democracy is not a ready-made formula, but, rather, the ability to handle difference within unity,” said Mohamed Ouzzine. “Ultimately it is the people of Lebanon who will determine the credibility of their elections.”
The preliminary statement highlights aspects of the conduct of elections, administration of polling centers, turnout, the new pre-printed ballots, secrecy of voting, list/candidate agent activity, and accessibility.
“Embracing the change that the public clearly deserves must include further efforts around inclusivity and access to the democratic process,” said Peter MacKay. “Notably, the cause of persons with disabilities has received attention, but it must be attained to have true meaning.”
NDI’s delegation notes that, although inconsistencies were reported, voting was generally peaceful, orderly and well-organized as executed by polling officials and security forces who did their jobs with admirable professionalism, compassion and pride.
The delegation’s preliminary statement provides recommendations to election authorities, political parties and candidates, security forces, civil society, the media, the international community, as well as other stakeholders. The recommendations focus on organizing inclusive consultation for review of elections, strengthening the electoral framework, advancing capacities of the Supervisory Commission on Elections (SCE), broadening political inclusion, and enhancing citizens’ confidence in Lebanon’s political institutions.
“It is admirable to see the advances that women in Lebanon have made throughout most aspects of society, though their political advancement, while improving, remains one of the lowest in the world,” said Birgitta Ohlsson. “We applaud the gains that female candidates made yesterday, and support their efforts to further expand their participation in Lebanon’s political process.”
The delegation conducted its activities in a nonpartisan manner in accordance with Lebanese law and international standards for election monitoring set forth in the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. Election observation can build public confidence in elected institutions, deter fraud, expose irregularities and help strengthen democratic reform processes.
NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening democratic institution worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Over the last 35 years, NDI has conducted more than 150 election observation missions in 62 countries, including fielding international observation delegations for the 2005 and 2009 parliamentary elections in Lebanon. NDI conducted a pre-election assessment mission in March, the statement from which provides recommendations on transparency, proactive inclusion, increased public engagement, and future reforms.
More information is available at ndi.org/lebanon. The international observation mission is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).