International Conference "Electoral Sovereignty in the Global World"

On the eve of the single voting day an international conference on electoral issues was held in Moscow


On 17 September 2016 Moscow hosted the international conference "Electoral Sovereignty in the Global World: National Strategies in the Development of Democratic Institutions and Ensuring the Electoral Rights of Citizens." The Conference was organized by the Association of lawyers of Russia, "Polycentric World" Foundation and MGIMO University.

The purpose of the conference is to summarize the electoral experience of different countries and provide the international community and the world expert community with information about the national diversity of electoral law, the general aspects and peculiarities in modern electoral processes, the present and the future of electoral democracies.

The Chairperson of the CEC of Russia Ella Pamfilova and the member of the CEC of Russia Nikolay Levichev took part in the Conference on behalf of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation.

In her speech, the Chairperson of the CEC of Russia noted the importance of a deep and comprehensive study of electoral experience of different countries in the light of relevance of the problem of adapting international standards of electoral process to the national traditions and characteristics of each country, its ethnic, religious and demographic situations, to the mentality of the people. The Chairperson stressed that the main thing in the elections is the real will of the people: "Only the will of the people can be a reliable basis for modern state power. The loss of confidence in the elections can negate the role and importance of all other democratic institutions."

Ella Pamfilova spoke about the main stages of the formation of the system of modern electoral law in Russia, noting that the changes in the electoral system reflect the political reality of Russian society, the dynamics of its development. She noted that in a number of electoral procedures, Russia has achieved greater success than states with many years of experience in conducting democratic elections. Laws that have no analogues in foreign electoral practice have been adopted and are in force.

"For example, political parties admitted to the distribution of mandates in the State Duma are guaranteed equal coverage of their activities on public television and radio channels in the inter-election period. Guarantees of air equality of the parties represented in the legislative assemblies of the regions of Russia are provided accordingly," said Ella Pamfilova.

Nikolay Levichev, the member of the CEC of Russia, noted that elections today are not only an institution that characterizes a certain political system, but also a universal value aspired by the civil society of most countries. According to the member of the CEC of Russia, the assessment of electoral practices is traditionally associated with the overall assessment of democratization processes in a particular country: "Elections are often synonymous with democracy. If electoral campaigns lose the status of a legitimate means of achieving social harmony then the role and importance of all other democratic institutions may be negated."

Nikolay Levichev listed a number of electoral issues that are common to most states and require a comprehensive understanding taking into account international experience. This includes a decrease in electoral activity, an increase in the mobility of population and the increasing role of the Internet, which has led to a large-scale shift in public energy, but this has not yet been adequately reflected in the legally established electoral procedures. The problem of the influence of supranational institutions, including transnational corporations, on political processes becomes urgent.

Member of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation spoke about the practice of international observation. Nikolay Levichev drew attention to the fact that there are countries with developed electoral democracy in which the law does not provide for the invitation of international observers. "In some countries that position themselves as a model of electoral democracy, international observation is generally prohibited, as, for example, in some states of the USA". On the other hand, sometimes the opinion of observers provokes heated debate and is used in internal political struggle. "The electoral verdict should not be politically and ideologically motivated. Electoral processes should receive an objective and unbiased assessment," stressed Nikolay Levichev.

The Co-chairperson of the Association of lawyers of Russia, rector of the Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL) made a welcoming speech. Roberto Rosario Marquez, Chairperson of A-WEB, sent a video greeting to the conference participants.

During the day, discussions were held in the framework of three panel sessions at the site of the event. The status, problems and prospects of development of the Institute of international observation, the current state of electoral processes and a variety of electoral practices were discussed. Experts from different countries shared their experience in building democratic institutions as a basis for sustainable development and international cooperation.

The conference was attended by representatives of international associations of electoral bodies, national election commissions, parliaments and political parties of Europe, Asia, Latin America and CIS countries, as well as experts in the field of electoral law from leading Russian universities, political scientists, representatives of civil society.