Following an official invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and in accordance with its mandate OSCE/ODIHR has deployed a limited election observation mission (LEOM) to observe the 23 October 2011 presidential and municipal elections.
ODIHR conducted a Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) from 18 to 21 July 2011 to assess the pre-election environment and the preparations for the presidential and municipal elections and in order to recommend whether to deploy an OSCE/ODIHR election-related activity for the forthcoming elections, and if so, what type of activity best meets the identified needs. The NAM recommended the deployment of a limited election observation mission.
The OSCE/ODIHR LEOM, headed by Vadim Zhdanovich, began work on 28 September. The LEOM has a core team of eleven international staff at the head office in Sofia, drawn from eight OSCE participating States. Ten long-term observers are expected to arrive in the country by 30 September and will be deployed in teams of two throughout the regions.
The mission will assess these elections for compliance with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections, as well as national legislation. Observers will follow campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant state bodies, implementation of the legislative framework, and the resolution of election disputes. As part of the observation, the LEOM will conduct comprehensive monitoring of the media.
ODIHR has observed five elections in Bulgaria since 1997, most recently the 2009 parliamentary elections. ODIHR concluded that the 5 July 2009 parliamentary elections in the Republic of Bulgaria “were generally conducted in accordance with OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards. While effective checks and balances proved to be in place, concrete measures are required to address persistent problems so as to ensure the integrity of the election process and increase public confidence in future elections”.
ODIHR has also issued a joint opinion on the “Election Code of Bulgaria”, together with the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.