Efforts to Increase Voter Turnout

On 12 December 2010, parliamentary elections will take place in Kosovo, after a turbulent autumn initiated by the resignation of former President Fatmir Sejdiu. Civil Rights Defenders’ representative in Kosovo will monitor the elections closely.

During the years since independence the government has failed in many ways to initiate reforms and implement laws. Consequently the economy has stagnated, unemployment remains very high, public institutions are weak and corruption thrives. Moreover the judiciary is not functioning properly, freedom of expression is a concern, and discrimination is very much present.

In the wake of the elections, we are working in different ways to put human rights and rule of law on the agenda. On Human Rights Day, December 10, we are showing the photo exhibition ¨Our Rights¨ on the main street of Pristina together with our partner Youth Initiative for Human Rights. We are also organising an event in the evening to discuss political rights.

We have intensified our efforts to increase the participation of three specific groups that previously had a very low election turnout. Those are the youth, the Serbian community and the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities.

Together with Youth Initiative for Human Rights we have initiated the “Get Out and Vote Campaign”, which includes street actions and a media campaign aimed at increasing the participation of young people in the elections. The campaign promotes critical thinking and activism. We hope that it will increase the turnout of young people in this year’s parliamentary elections, but also encourage them to critically assess political party programs.

Together with the radio network Kosovo Media Association we strive to raise the awareness among the Serbian population on issues related to the upcoming elections. This is being done by providing accurate, balanced, and unbiased news and informative programs. The programs cover the electoral processes, report on the elections and include discussions with the listeners. Hopefully this will result in more people using their right to vote.

Voter turn-out among the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian (RAE) communities in Kosovo has been, and still is, low. Together with the Roma and Ashkali Documentation Centre we work to encourage more members of these communities to vote. This is done in a campaign which includes providing information about the the election procedures and the importance of the elections. Moreover, we will monitor the national election processes to identify problems specific for the RAE communities, in order to address these issues even better in future elections.