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OSCE: media bias and intolerant rhetoric marred Polish otherwise correct elections

TVN24 News in English

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The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deployed a Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM) to Poland on 10 September and will remain until 22 OctoberTVN24 News in English
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The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) published a preliminary statement regarding Polish parliamentary elections held on Sunday, October 13. International observers monitoring the vote expressed their concerns regarding shortfalls in certain areas. "The campaign environment was highly polarized and became increasingly negative, while campaign messages containing nationalist and homophobic rhetoric gave rise to a sense of threat," OSCE wrote in a press release on its website on Tuesday.

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International observers published a preliminary statement, available at OSCE website, which says, among other things, that "Polish parliamentary elections were administratively prepared well, but clear media bias as well as intolerant rhetoric detracted from the otherwise competitive process".

"These elections were well organized ahead of the vote, but while voters stepping into the polling booth had numerous options available to them, their ability to make an informed choice was undermined by a lack of impartiality in the media, especially the public broadcaster," said Ambassador Jan Petersen, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission.

He added: "The use of discriminatory rhetoric by a number of leading political figures is of serious concern in a democratic society".

The election administration was praised for organizing the vote in an orderly and timely manner.

"Election day was orderly, although the secrecy of the vote was not always enforced. Timely publication of preliminary results ensured transparency," reads the OSCE press release.

However, the observers pointed out that "most women candidates had little visibility and issues of gender equality did not feature highly during the campaign".

Furthermore, OSCE claims, "bias in the media compromised voters’ ability to make a balanced decision ahead of election day".

"In general, the campaign environment was highly polarized and became increasingly negative, while campaign messages containing nationalist and homophobic rhetoric gave rise to a sense of threat," the authors of the report conclude.

Among other concerns, the observers listed insufficient regulations on campaigning and spending public funds, and "lack of trust in the ability of prosecutors and courts to handle election-related complaints independently". The latter, according to OSCE, is a result of " the merger of the functions of the prosecutor general with the minister of justice and other judicial reforms".

Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM) will remain in Poland until October 22.

READ THE ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE AND THE PRELIMINARY STATEMENT AT OSCE WEBSITE

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, OSCE

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: tvn24

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