Published On: Thu, Jan 10th, 2019

Ipko positive about structural election observation

IPKO consultation meeting - 10 Jan 2019

PHILIPSBURG – All four delegations taking part in the Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation (Ipko) reacted positively to a proposal by VVD parliamentarian André Bosman to establish structural election observation. In the Netherlands this is already regulated in the electoral law but the three Caribbean islands will have to develop their own vision on this issue.

St. Maarten received election observers for the first time during the 2018 elections. “It is customary in many countries to observe each other’s elections,” Bosman told the Ipko-gathering on Thursday. “The democratic process is very valuable and it is important to make elections as accountable as possible.” Bosman said that the Netherlands invites observers for every election, but that other countries also invite observers from the Netherlands.

“The objective is not to infringe upon the elections; it is pure observation,” Bosman explained. “Observers check for instance whether there are enough polling stations, enough ballots and whether there is intimidation around the polling stations.”

Bosman referred to the observers that monitored the elections in St. Maarten in 2018. “Now we have to decide what the value of election observation is and whether we are willing to do this structurally. This way we will improve the know-how and insights into elections.”

A structured approach means that the countries will allow observers during their elections as a matter of fact. “Not if, but when,” as Bosman expressed it.

Meinder Rojer, member of the Curacao-delegation said that “it is a good thing to have observers,” adding that things did not proceed entirely correct during the last elections on his island.

However, William Millerson, leader of the Curacao-delegation noted that there were observers present during those elections, from places like Aruba, St. Maarten and Caricom.

Dutch parliamentarian Ronald van Raak said that he was content with the initial reactions to the proposal. He noted that election observation could be placed in a wider perspective by accepting advice from the Council of Europe. “They are able to give advice about making gifts to politicians transparent, about how to deal with politicians with a criminal record, about party financing, corruption and fraud. That could be an offer from Europe.”

Marisol Lopes-Tromp (Aruba) said that representatives from her island have been invited as observers to other countries for years. “But it was always limited to observing on election day.” Lopes-Tromp said that Aruba would take Bosman’s proposal under consideration.

Chairlady Sarah Wescot-Williams read from the paper that was prepared for this agenda point that the governments of each country are free to decide how they want to make use of election observation. One recommendation in the paper is that the governments make election observation structural.

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