April 30, 2014, 10:58 a.m.
Macedonia: The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has released a preliminary report based on its observation of Macedonia’s recent presidential and legislative elections. In the report, ODIHR notes that the election was administered effectively and without infringement of fundamental freedoms, but criticizes the Macedonian government’s actions in the lead-up to the election on a number of issues. According to the head of the election observation mission, Geert Ahrens, the Macedonian government “failed to meet important OSCE commitments, including on the separation of state and party, on ensuring a level playing field, on the neutrality of the media, on the accuracy of the voters list and on the possibility of gaining redress through an effective complaints procedure.” Initial results of the election have the VMRO DPMNE party winning 61 of 123 seats and the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) winning 34 seats. However, as of 29 April the SDSM was discussing returning the seats and refusing to participate in the government due to their allegations of fraud.
Thailand: Leader of the opposition Democrat Party ABHISIT Vejjajiva has initiated a series of private discussions with stakeholders in an effort to end the country’s current political turmoil. ABHISIT has thus far met with representatives of the military and the Election Commission. However, although he has spoken of the need for “democratic and constitutional reform,” ABHISIT has not made public the content of the meetings. Both allies of embattled Prime Minister YINGLUCK Shinawatra and supporters of anti-government protest leader SUTHEP Thaugsuban have criticized ABHISIT’s efforts and have shown no sign of being willing to compromise. However, YINGLUCK herself has spoken positively of ABHISIT’s attempts to end the stalemate and has pledged her government's support.
Ukraine: The Central Election Commission and Ministry of Justice are discussing the possibility of holding a referendum alongside the country's coming presidential election. The referendum would include provisions on political decentralization, in response to a growing separatist threat in Ukraine’s eastern regions. The referendum is reportedly more likely to be held alongside the second round of the election on 15 June to give the election commission more time to prepare. The first round will be held on 25 May. Holding the referendum alongside the presidential election could save the government 970 million hryvnia ($85.5 million), but would still cost the Ukrainian government an estimated 30 million hryvnia ($2.5 million) to implement.
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