How do Norwegian Elections Appear to International Observers?
NORDEM was once again tasked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with hosting international delegations during the Norwegian elections in September and organized a week-long study programme where one of the objectives was to enable the participants to make their own assessment of the Norwegian electoral process.
Election observers discussing with Knut Arild Hareide, leader of KrF, the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party. (photo: NORDEM)
The participants were from Kenya, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Nepal and represented national election commissions, parliamentary committees and civil society organizations in their respective countries.
Introducing the Norwegian Electoral System
Prominent election experts gave a broad introduction to the common international standards for democratic elections and standards for international election observation, as well as an introduction to the Norwegian political- and electoral system and procedures, including the self-regulative function of the media.
The delegations met with the Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs at the Parliament, representatives of different political parties, and experienced the election campaign activities on Karl Johan Street. On election day, the delegates observed the voting at different polling stations in Oslo and the final count at the Oslo City Hall.
Surprised by Low Election Turn-Out
After the elections, the delegates handed over their main findings and recommendations to the State Secretary Jardar Jensen and the Election Department of the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization.
In addition to an in-depth study of the Norwegian electoral system, the study programme was an important arena for the participants to meet and discuss the core principles of democratic elections. A special emphasis was given to the experience of being observed and how Norway responded to the recommendations of the international observers to the local elections in 2009. This exercise showed how a country can benefit from a view from the outside.
- In a developed society, with a high level of equality and with many possibilities for advanced voting, there is no excuse for such a low turnout, said the Nepali delegation in an interview with NRK during the visit..
Raised Criticism on Accessibility
The Nepali delegation commented that the elections were not sufficiently adapted to persons with special needs. For instance some polling stations were located on the second or third floor that people in wheelchairs could not access on their own.
Noticed Absence of Police
The Kenyan delegation to NORDEM's study programme said, in an interview with TV2 on election day, that they were impressed with the administration of the Norwegian local and municipal elections, but surprised by the lack of police and security outside the polling stations.