Vienna, 30 April 2020: The United Nations have called the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic the biggest international crisis in generations. As the number of infected people began to mount rapidly, governments across Europe put in place a variety of measures to contain the spread of the virus. Many of these measures reflect how emergency situations can impact the safeguarding of fundamental rights and democratic practices.
In mid-April, Election-Watch.EU has conducted a Rapid Assessment to take stock of the impact of Covid-19 on elections in Europe – in the 27 EU Member States as well as in the prospective Member States Albania and North Macedonia and in the former Member State United Kingdom – in order to shed light on key questions: Which elections are taking place under the current conditions? Which elections are being postponed? How are these processes regulated? How can this be evaluated from a fundamental rights perspective? And what recommendations can be drawn from this assessment? A number of international organisations have already provided reflections on the general or case-specific conditions for holding elections under these circumstances and have been referenced in the subsequent Rapid Assessment report. Eight like-minded organizations and 55 people from 30 countries have contributed to this exercise. Democracy Essentials has kindly supported our work with graphic design.
The Rapid Assessment had been inspired by inquiries coming from the European Commission about the activities of the Election-Watch.EU network during the pandemic. The assessment findings and recommendations were subsequently shared with the relevant offices. Election-Watch.EU was invited to present the Rapid Assessment findings during a webinar of the European Platform or Democratic Elections, and a summary was published in Wiener Zeitung. Based on the feedback to the Rapid Assessment, Election-Watch.EU develops ideas for a follow-up project.