The Advisory Council on Human Rights (CCDH) oversaw the process of observing the communal elections, staged in Morocco on June 12, 2009, and facilitated the observation conducted by the Collectif, a group of associations to monitor elections, the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights (OMDH) and the Civil Democratic Forum, in addition to 13 accredited observers from various European, American and Asian nationalities representing universities and think thanks.
The CCDH appointed 119 observers and 12 coordinators who conducted a direct observation in 111 urban and rural communes in 28 provinces where the CCDH regional sections have been established in addition to Marrakech as a district-system urban commune.
Following this observation, the CCDH released a preliminary report, which was presented at a press conference, held on June 15, 2009.
The report highlighted that the election process was conducted under good conditions, except for some cases whereby observers were prevented to have access to some polling stations in violation of the ministerial decision to facilitate the work of observers. Some observers were insulted and threatened in some communes under observation by some candidates, their supporters, authority agents or boycotters. Also, the report pointed out that the distribution of the observers in the country was uneven. For example, in Casablanca, the number was 145 against only 3 in Mohammedia and Ousserd.
Although there was nothing proving that there was a systematic prevention of observers to have access to the polling stations, these limited cases on the one hand, and the experience accumulated in independent election observation by the CCDH as a national human rights institution, and by the components of civil society set the stage, particularly after the end of the communal elections, for opening a public debate on the institutionalization of the observation and the role of the observers in the Election Code as is the case with some election systems in other countries.
The report stressed that the election process was normal. As regards registration, there was a positive impact of the adoption of residence as a criterion for registration. However, there was a difficulty to have access to registration in communes where there is a mobility of inhabitants.
In addition, the fact that the challenges to the decisions of the arbitration committee were limited was due to the difficulties of access to the judiciary and the lack of information as regards the procedure that should be adopted to challenge these decisions, as regards the issuance of decisions to cross out some names from the election lists.
Concerning the conduct of the electoral process parties, observation proved that there was a trend that has come to the surface since the legislative elections. Irregularities take place at the pre-campaign period and not at the campaign period. This applies to the distribution of donations at the pre-campaign period.
As regards candidacy, there is a rise in women’s candidacy (15.7% against 4.8 in 2003). Women’s candidacies defined by political parties is not up to the commitments of these parties, specified in their statutes and house rules (for each party, it ranges between 10% and 30%).
In terms of election communication, the fact that the decision on the use of audio-visual media at the election campaign to allocate one session by each party for supplementary election districts in the urban and rural communes. However, other practices should be taken into account. They seem to impact on this picture, such as the use of discriminatory gender-based phrases against women candidates at the election campaign, or putting the supplementary lists below the normal ones in the election leaflets, which creates a picture of gender inequality.
The polling process took place under normal and appropriate conditions in the communes under observation, except for some few cases whereby the election campaign continued even on the polling day and a pooling station closed temporarily at lunch time, which violates law. It was observed that all the polling stations were equipped with the materials specified in the Election Code except for some cases.
While it is necessary to highlight that the new procedure on the voting of the persons with disabilities was a positive element, the problem of lack of accessibility persisted in some polling stations under observation. Also, some voters did not get their election cards and some did not recognize the polling station where their cards may exist.
In addition, the voting process was conducted in normal circumstances, except for some cases of tension and skirmish inside the stations, and one attempt to run away with the ballot box and one attempt to break it. Sorting operation, votes counting and announcement of results went under favorable conditions and in compliance with the law. However, the significant rate of spoilt ballots in some polling stations as regards the supplementary list in the communes where the fist-past-the-post is applied and the problem of the ability to read the ballot paper, especially for voters with limited education, requires an in-depth thinking.
These are the main recommendations that appear in the preliminary report:
Identify in the future exceptional deadlines to register in the election lists as regards some cases (Moving houses);
Think of mechanisms to inform voters of the legal possibilities they can resort to and make justice facilities close to them;
More mobilization and sensitization by the media and political parties;
The need to publish the achievements of the outgoing council and discuss it publicly;
Conduct further studies in cases related to the candidacy of men in supplementary lists and the ability of political parties to manage candidacies;
Children should not be used as assistants in the election campaign;
Take necessary measures to lessen the number of marches and separate their lanes;
Ensure that the disabled enjoy fully and easily their right to vote;
Think about completing the system of positive discrimination for the nomads and voters who are involved in economic activities entailing significant geographic mobility, by setting up mobile polling stations;
Equip fully the polling stations, mainly with chairs and photocopiers;
Make more awareness efforts around the use of the ballot paper and may be review its form and content;
Take into account the agendas of particular social and demographic groups (students during the period of high school and university examinations).Print this page Send this page