The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has commended the Elections Commission (EC) for their exemplary handling of the voting arrangements during the runoff of the 2023 presidential election held last Saturday.
Nacho Sánchez Amor, the Chief Observer and a member of the European Parliament from Spain, expressed his admiration for the EC’s professionalism throughout the entire election process, from preparations leading up to the vote count. At a press conference held on Monday, he stated, “This was yet another well-organized election day that our observers assessed positively. The credit goes to the election administration and its polling staff for ensuring the election ran smoothly.”
During the press conference, Amor presented the preliminary findings of the EU EOM regarding the runoff election.
The mission evaluated the entire process, beginning with the re-registration of voters, progressing through the casting of votes, and concluding with the compilation of results. While the political freedoms of candidates and their supporters were largely respected, the mission did raise concerns about reports of vote-buying on both sides. This highlighted the necessity for enhanced transparency in campaign financing, a point previously noted by the team during the first round of elections.
The mission acknowledged a significant increase in applications for voter re-registration for the runoff election and commended the EC for efficiently managing this process. Furthermore, they praised the EC for their increased voter information efforts and engagement with a greater number of political parties, which contributed to improved transparency and trust in their work.
Despite observing the professionalism and efficiency of polling officials in following procedures from the opening of polling stations through to the vote count, the mission expressed concerns about overly strict instructions for determining invalid votes. This had led to an increased number of rejected ballots without considering the clear intent of the voters.
Similar to the first round, the mission noted that state media exhibited preferential treatment towards the President, blurring the lines between official functions and campaign activities. Private TV channels were also observed to display bias based on their alignment with various parties.
The mission drew attention to the escalating divisive discourse on social media platforms, particularly X/Twitter and Meta, where both genuine and misleading information was disseminated. Examples included dubious polls, accusations of ID card falsification in the context of re-registration, and religion-related narratives.
The EU deployed 36 observers from EU member states, as well as Canada, Norway, and Switzerland, who visited 119 polling stations across 56 islands, including Male and 14 atolls in the Maldives during Saturday’s runoff.
The mission plans to return to the Maldives next January to deliver their final report.