12 November 2012, 18:17

OSCE slams US elections

OSCE slams US elections

Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have expressed dissatisfaction with the organization of the presidential elections in the United States. Russia’s representatives of the OSCE mission are yet to speak to journalists on the matter, while their European colleagues have already issued an official report on the US elections.

US media continue to hush up the report, instead focusing on the re-election of Barack Obama. One even gets the impression that US media outlets were irked with the OSCE observers’ work in the US during the elections. All this is not uncommon during elections worldwide, says Maxim Minayev of the Center for Political Conjuncture in Moscow.

"There are shortcomings in any election system, including the US one," Minayev says. "Some norms related to the US election system are seen by Europeans as obsolete, ineffective and undemocratic."

On the other hand, Americans could be frustrated about the very nature of the OSCE’s criticism. In previous years, the OSCE lambasted the US election system as such, singling out the electoral college and the general elections. The OSCE’s latest report focused on the November 6 elections, during which prisoners and even ex-prisoners in some states were banned from casting their ballots and voters had to register on their own well ahead of the beginning of the elections. Additionally, the report mentioned small numbers of polling stations, long queues and local authorities’ reluctance to cooperate with the OSCE observers. Such steps comply with the OSCE’s recent decision to tighten screws on monitoring the elections worldwide, says Viktor Kremenyuk of the Moscow-based Institute for US and Canadian Studies.

"Such a hardline approach reflects the OSCE’s unwillingness to demonstrate double standards," Kremenyuk says, citing the parliamentary elections in Ukraine and the presidential polls in the US and Russia.

Maxim Minayev, for his part, says that Washington is unlikely to be pleased with the OSCE’s push for criticizing the US elections given that the US has never seen the OSCE as a serious and trustworthy organization. All the more so that the OSCE has repeatedly been slammed by critics over the past few years.

This is why US authorities will hardly pay attention to the OSCE’s critical remarks pertaining to the electoral college which is touted by Washington as an essential part of the US election system. In this regard, it would be naïve to hope that the 2016 elections in the US will see more polling stations and a U-turn in Washington’s approach to the OSCE observers.

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