Resolution 1320 (2003)
Code of Good
Practice in Electoral Matters
1. The holding of free, equal, universal,
secret and direct elections at regular intervals remains a sine qua non
for recognising a political system as democratic.
2. Noting that, until now, every European
or international organisation has tended to follow its own criteria on the
observation and evaluation of elections, and that there is neither a
formal text setting out all the underlying principles of European
electoral systems nor a permanent European body responsible for electoral
monitoring, the Parliamentary Assembly considers that the Council of
Europe, owing to its specific role as the guardian of democracy in Europe,
should play a pioneering role in codifying election rules.
3. In view of the Council of Europes
widely-recognised experience in observing elections and referendums in
member states or applicant countries, Resolution 1264
(2001) therefore invited the European Commission for Democracy through Law
(the Venice Commission) to set up a working group to devise a code of good
practice in electoral matters.
4. The Assembly welcomes the setting up
of the Council for Democratic Elections, a tripartite body in which the
Assembly has actively participated together with the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of Europe, and especially thanks the Venice
Commission for its significant contribution to the drafting of the Code of
Good Practice in Electoral Matters, which has now been published.
5. The Assembly considers that the code
constitutes a major step towards harmonising standards for the
organisation and observation of elections and in establishing procedures
and conditions for the organisation of the electoral process.
6. The Assembly notes with interest the
documents recently drafted by the Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights (Odihr) of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Europe (OSCE) and the Association of Central and Eastern European Election
Officials (ACEEEO), which are also aimed at defining the rules governing
7. The Assembly considers that the
adoption of the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters would enable
Council of Europe member states to re-evaluate and/or revise their
electoral legislation. In this manner election observation reports could
examine whether the laws and regulations applied in member states comply
with the various criteria and rules laid down in the code, with a view to
assessing their democratic character.
8. The Assembly considers that, as a
reference document not only for member states but also for itself, the
code would reinforce the impact and the credibility of the electoral
observation and monitoring activities conducted by the Council of Europe.
9. The Assembly, noting that the code
does not provide for any sanctions in the event of failure by the member
state to comply with its provisions, considers that the matter requires
10. The Assembly proposes to forward the
Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters to national delegations and
parliaments, so that it can be applied in Council of Europe member states
as soon as possible and it supports any other similar initiatives.
11. The Assembly therefore invites the
i. to set the activities of the Council
for Democratic Elections on a permanent footing and consider the council
one of its own bodies, while maintaining its current form of mixed
membership, as specified in Resolution 1264;
ii. to implement the aims of the
Council for Democratic Elections, as set out in Resolution 1264, and, in
particular, continue its activities with a view to:
a. setting up a database
comprising, inter alia, the electoral legislation of Council of
Europe member states;
b. formulating opinions, in
co-ordination with the Assembly, on all general questions relating to
electoral matters as well as opinions concerning possible improvements
to legislation and practices, in particular member states or applicant
as soon as possible, a computerised questionnaire setting out in a
practical form the general principles of the Code of Good
Practice in Electoral Matters, which would give the observer
delegations a better overview of the electoral situation.
Assembly debate on 30 January 2003 (7th Sitting) (see Doc. 9682,
report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr Clerfayt).
Text adopted by the
Assembly on 30 January 2003 (7th Sitting).