A 15-person delegation from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia observed parliamentary elections in Poland at the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Electoral Commission. In the course of the visit held on 6-11 October, representatives of the three countries of North Africa became acquainted with the Polish electoral law, the state of preparations for the elections, as well as with the practical side of their organization on the day of voting during visits to committees and polling stations.
The delegation from Egypt and Tunisia was composed of the heads and members of electoral commissions and persons responsible for the preparation of democratic elections in those countries. Tunisians will elect representatives of their Constituent Assembly on 23rd October. Elections to the People's Assembly of Egypt will begin on 28th November. The Libyan delegation was composed of social activists involved in the fight for human rights and building of democratic principles of state functioning after the revolution.
Visitors from North Africa not only observed the progress of elections on the election day, but also the state of preparations. They participated in a press conference of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), during which the Commission presented, inter alia, voting rules and the idea of the election silence. During meetings with the Commission, observers became familiar with the Polish legal regulations which determine the electoral process and the functioning of the bodies that conduct it. They also discussed, among others, the practical aspects of the organization of elections and the capacity of polling stations. Guests also asked about the principles and criteria for determining the range of constituencies, the location of polling stations and about the impact of political forces on such decisions. Observers also learnt about the IT tools applied in Poland to efficiently collect and transfer the results of the vote, which allow the data to be published in real time. The First President of the Supreme Court, S. Dąbrowski, and the President of the Supreme Court, W. Sanetra, presented to the observers Polish mechanisms of lodging electoral protests and the procedure of their examination.
During a visit to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE (ODIHR), participants learned, inter alia, about the election observation system used by the OSCE. The seminar conducted by the sociologist Prof. A. Sułek was devoted to the functions of election polls in a democratic system and to the impact of public opinion polls on voters and election results.
On the election day (9th October) delegations divided into three teams visited Regional Electoral Commissions (REC) in Warsaw (the group from Tunisia), Radom (the group from Libya) and Płock (the group from Egypt) and a few polling stations in those cities. In conversations with members of the REC observers asked about preparations for the elections and voting process. They observed the process of casting votes in the stations, opening of ballot boxes, counting of votes and recording of the work of commissions.
Observers from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, evaluated the organization of elections in Poland and the transparency and fairness of the Polish electoral system in vary favourable terms. They expressed interest in the application of certain elements of the Polish electoral system in their countries. They emphasized that in the upcoming and future elections in North Africa, a major challenge will be to convince citizens to participate in the voting and to win their trust necessary for the joint building of democracy.
The visit of observers from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia is part of the wider Polish support for the North African countries implementing democratic constitutional standards.