Thursday, January 13, 2005

[ELECTION 2005] With Watchdogs Like These…

Among the biggest losers of 2005 presidential elections are certain institutions that are supposed to be the pillars of civic society. One of them is GONG, NGO which enjoyed the reputation of Croatia's most reliable election watchdog and best source of election data.

However, what happened before, during and immediately after the first round is most likely to stain their reputation.

At first, their election observers confidently made projection according to which Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) was supposed to win in the first round.

Then they claimed that the election was free and fair. Boris Mikšić (Boris Miksic) with his claims of massive fraud was dismissed as dangerous and irresponsible right-wing populist.

Now GONG withdraws both of those claims, based on the data supplied by two of their observers in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It seems that there was major vote fraud after all. Their observers found many cases of dead people voting, presumably for Jadranka Kosor - which isn't surprising, since most of electoral board members at Bosnian polling stations belonged to Bosnian franchise of Kosor's HDZ. The scope of the alleged fraud was such that GONG filed criminal complaint to the office of Croatia's public prosecutor in Zagreb.

However, even if the evidence shows clear vote fraud, such findings are unlikely to affect election itself, at least directly. All deadlines has passed and the result, based on fraud or not, is official and final.

The news about alleged fraud have affected the campaign, though. Today Novi list reporters confronted Jadranka Kosor and asked her how she felt about being "elected by dead people". That prompted one of her bodyguards to assault Novi list photographer.


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