A word on election observation

Since 2011 I volunteer as Election Observer for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). We observe the freedom and fairness of the election and counting process on the ground and contribute to the regional findings of the overall OSCE report. No chance to report as most insights we get are confidential, but a great opportunity to see the situation in post-conflict countries at a crucial moment in their history. Let me give you a brief impression of elections in Kazakhstan, Georgia and Albania.

I did it again.
In June I took part in my third Election Observation Mission for the OSCE, this time in Albania. Despite some outbursts of violence the Albanian parliamentary elections were surprisingly fair and transparent. ODIHR wrote its most positive report about the Balkan state since the end of the communist era: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/103062. This might set the future for Albania’s negotiations towards EU candidacy.
I won’t give any details in word or pictures about the election day, as we are bound to discretion. But I can show you pictures of this beautiful, yet sometimes bizarre, country.
Another Europe – election observation in the Albanian highlands


Invisible Borders

 “I have to be careful where my cattle walks to”, this shepherd told us, pointing to some bushes near the hills.”This is where the border is supposed to be. I know that – but they don’t.” Some weeks ago three of his friends were arrested and put to a labour camp by the Russian military, because they crossed the invisible border when collecting firewood.
Georgia, sleeping beauty – EOM on the South Ossetian border (2012)




Worshipping the President

Kazakhs place their hand in the gilden print of all-time-president Nursultan Nasarbajew (since 1990) as a sign of veneration and loyalty. This picture was taken in the Bayterek Tower in the new capital Astana few days after the presidential elections in January 2012 in which the presidential party won 81 % of the votes.
Kazakhstan, winterwonderland at minus 40 degrees – election observation in notorious Semipalatinsk (2012)

Curious? Each OSCE member state has different application/ selection criteria for its election observers. As to German nationals, you can apply at the Zentrum für Internationale Friedenseinsätze >>