Election Watchdog Group Names Top Offenders and Role Models

laine uudised-laine
22. May 2014

Instead of a weekly Wall of Shame, the election watchdog "Valimiste Valvurid", coordinated by NENO, has come up with a monthly list of offenders and role models, indicating a calmer nature of the current election cycle. 

The list published on the election blog of uudised.err.ee includes regular offenders like the Center Party and media campaigns lacking substance, but also praises a shift to a more thorough media coverage that has ushered in more substantial debates.

The top three offenders

3. The Center Party using public funds for its election push. The party carefully timed the launch of campaigns that praise living in Tallinn and regularly employ the city’s media to skewer the opposing parties. “This election campaign was, of course, child’s play when compared to the local elections in the fall,” member Toomas Mattson commented, “but you should not necessarily compare yourself to the lowest denominator.”

2. Undermining e-voting. The attack on electronic voting by a group of international specialists a few days before the voting begins undermines the relationship between the state and the citizen. If improving the safety of elections had been the real aim of the move, endorsed by the Center Party, the research results would have been published after the research was completed – in August this year, as stated in the grant awarded to the specialists.

1. Banal juxtaposing and media campaigns lacking real substance. Primitive schemes and slogans that focus on opponents, often veering into personal attacks, draw attention away from real issues. “Negative campaigns mostly draw negative attention to the campaigners, and silly campaigns inflate the numbers of disappointed and discouraged voters,” Anna Karolin said. “As a result, valuable debate time is then spent justifying the campaigns instead of introducing programs.”

The top three positive examples

3. Silver Meikar’s transparent campaign. The first article of good electoral practice states that election funding should be made public and Meikar is one step ahead by making his donors public already during the campaign. While it is easier for an independent candidate, it still deserves praise, member Urmo Kübar said.

2. Direct contact with voters. Communicating with voters through social media or direct meetings is essential for a healthy democracy, counterbalancing the simplistic slogans of political advertisements.

1. Media platforms focused on substance. The coverage in various media outlets has significatnly improved compared to local and parliamentary elections – journalists are well-prepared and have highlighted wider European issues. Debates on the Vikerraadio, ETV and dailies, as well as television interviews with candidates, are a positive way of prompting the candidates to open their programs more and show their debating skills.