ASUNCION – The head of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EOM) in Paraguay, Romanian liberal Eurodeputy Renate Weber, on Monday insisted on the need for “complete transparency in the financing of political parties and in the election campaign” with an eye toward the April 22 elections here.
Weber, who arrived in Asuncion on Sunday, met on Monday with the head of the Superior Electoral Court of Justice (TSJE), Jaime Bestard, to discuss assorted working issues.
“As the EOM, the most important thing is to give the citizenry confidence in an electoral process, and I think that this is also the role of the TSJE, above and beyond the administration of elections, also to transmit to the citizens that they can trust in a proper administration of elections,” Weber told reporters after her meeting with Bestard.
Weber had been an EU observer in Paraguay’s 2013 elections and also visited the country during the European bloc’s 2015 electoral mission, and so her prior experience on the ground has enabled her to closely evaluate the situation in the run-up to the April 22 vote.
“Some of the recommendations were badly fulfilled ... there was no big electoral reform ... I think that the most important thing we’re seeing at this point ... is something that has to do with the financing of political parties and the election campaign,” she said.
To achieve this transparency, Weber urged “giving the TSJE full authority to oversee how that financing is done,” providing it with “more financial resources, more human resources.”
In addition, she also directed her remarks to the country’s political actors, reminding them that “the law obligates them to keep accounts of everything they spend in any elections.”
In like manner, Weber said she supported “changing or improving the law” if it proves to be insufficient for achieving clarity in the electoral process.
The EU sent its first observer mission to Paraguay in 2013 and concluded that the country suffered from irregularities in – and non-fulfillment of – electoral rules, as well as showing indications of vote-buying.
In addition, the European team issued a report with 30 recommendations designed to contribute to strengthening future elections in the landlocked South American country, including constitutional reforms and stricter application of existing regulations.
Weber on Sunday joined the 24 long-term European observers who have been deployed around the country since March.
Those observers will be augmented with another 34 short-term observers who will arrive in the country a few days before the vote.
The EU mission, comprised of 90 members, will remain in Paraguay until early May to supervise post-election developments and issue a report on the voting process.
Weber said that she received “daily reports” from observers around the country and, so far, they have not reported any improper incidents.
“We’ve received very good attention on the part of the provincial courts, openness, transparency ... If something happens, we’re going to inform them,” she added.
The EOM is being deployed in Paraguay in stages at the request of Paraguayan authorities.