Spiegel reported on Monday that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is deciding whether to monitor the September 24th German national election.
For the first time, delegates from the OSCE met with party leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party at their central headquarters, who provided documentation of “attacks, violence, obstructions, and criminal acts against AfD members through private and public positions” as well as “individual acts and in their alarming sum make up a massive interference in a democratic competition for votes in the parliamentary election campaign.”
Members of the OSCE and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) – which is specifically tasked with election observation and democratic development – spoke as well with every other major contender fighting in the campaign. This included Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU and CSU parties, as well as their current coalition partner, the centre-left SPD. The Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry also spoke with the intergovernmental organization, which in part works to ensure fair elections.
Now the small group of experts consisting of just two men and a woman will decide whether to deploy a specific observation mission to Germany come election time.
In total, the OSCE represents 57 nations, including the United States and Russia.
The AfD in particular has been eager to get the OSCE involved, according to Spiegel, as even last year they had asked then Foreign Minister and current President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to get the organization involved in state parliament elections. The party has argued that they have been “disadvantaged structurally in various ways in all election campaigns.”
Following the state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, the AfD demanded a review of votes, noting discrepancies in ballot counts. A subsequent evaluation found that the party should have received 2,000 more votes than first tallied, but this was not enough to change the final results.
But Spiegel writes that the organization very rarely gets involved in state parliament elections, and observing national elections is done at the request of governments, not by individual parties.
Spiegel further points out that while the AfD has suggested that the OSCE has never come to Germany for an election before, the organization with its ODIHR in fact was active in both the 2009 and 2013 votes after being invited by the German government.
In both of these years, the OSCE did not find any major issues. During the 2013 election, they sent two experts to evaluate changes that had been made to laws concerning campaign finance. They suggested requiring more transparency from parties, but also did not “comprehensively” monitor voting on election day.
Regardless of whether the OSCE and ODIHR decide to send an observation mission, members of the organization’s parliamentary assembly will indeed be in Germany for the election, Spiegel writes, though how many will come is still open.
Members of the parliamentary assembly have attended elections in the past in other member states, including in the US and UK.