BEIRUT — After a six-day visit to Lebanon by a European Union electoral observation mission in preparation for May’s parliamentary elections, Chief Observer Gyorgy Holvenyi said Monday that he has heard no indication that the elections will be postponed, and said officials had assured him that there will be sufficient funding to properly run and monitor the polls.
While some have continued to raise doubts as to whether the elections will go forward on schedule, Holvenyi, a member of the European Parliament from Hungary, told reporters that the stakeholders his team had interviewed so far had “expressed [their] own interest not to postpone the elections.”
“Everybody said that… they are interested to have the election — nobody was interested in postponing,” he said.
Some observers have questioned whether the Supervisory Commission for Elections, a key government body that monitors elections in Lebanon, and other public entities responsible for ensuring the elections are properly run will have sufficient funding to do their work.
Last week, President Michel Aoun signed into law a bill passed by Parliament to appropriate LL620 billion for the expenses of the parliamentary elections, with LL260 billion to go to the Interior Ministry, LL300 billion to cover the expense of issuing passports, and LL60 billion to cover the expenses of organizing the vote for Lebanese expatriates abroad.
“All our interlocutors assured the mission that there is sufficient funding as far as the electoral process is concerned, and we are here to evaluate… whether it is the fact,” Holvenyi said. “This is one of the points which we'll be assessing. But those who are in charge assured us that the financial issue is guaranteed and is basically under control.”
A core team of 10 election experts arrived in Lebanon on March 27 and will remain through the May 15 election day, while another 30 observers will arrive this week and deploy throughout the country, with some short-term observers joining them closer to election day to monitor the polling, voting and counting, both in Lebanon and in vote centers in countries with a large Lebanese diaspora population.
In total, on election day, some 150 observers will be deployed from the 27 EU member states, as well as Norway and Switzerland, EU officials said. The mission will issue a preliminary report on the process two days after the polls with a final assessment coming about two months later.
The presence of international observers is not unprecedented; the EU also sent observers at Lebanon’s request to monitor the 2005, 2009 and 2018 elections.
“We are not here to interfere in the process. We are not investigators,” Holvenyi said. “The European Union election observation mission does not judge the electoral outcome and does not in any way validate results.”
Rather, he said, it “assesses whether the electoral process was conducted in line with the international regional and national obligations and commitments on the conduct of democratic elections that the country has subscribed to.”
During the visit, which ended Monday, Holvenyi and his delegation met with officials, including President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi — whose ministry is responsible for overseeing the elections — as well as with members of the Supervisory Committee for Elections, the Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections and with international officials and various local civil society groups.
Holvenyi also held meetings with representatives of political parties from different factions, including the Future Movement, Lebanese Forces, Kataeb and Hezbollah, and the new opposition list Shamaluna in North Lebanon. The delegation’s last meeting was with Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai who, while holding no official political position, often weighs in on the country’s political developments.
BEIRUT — After a six-day visit to Lebanon by a European Union electoral observation mission in preparation for May’s parliamentary elections, Chief Observer Gyorgy Holvenyi said Monday that he has heard no indication that the elections will be postponed, and said officials had assured him that there will be sufficient funding to properly run and monitor the polls.While some have continued to...