European Parliament candidates urged to put democratic values at the top of the agenda

International IDEA @Int_IDEA

Nobel Peace Laureates along with political and civic leaders are among the 300 signatories to an appeal ahead of next month’s European Parliament election, urging candidates to place democratic values at the top of their agenda in a world that is becoming increasingly authoritarian.

The just released open letter calls for strengthened measures to bolster the rule of law plus assurances that new digital technologies safeguard human rights and that democracy is placed firmly at the heart of the European Union’s (EU) security, migration, energy, and trade agendas.

According to the Stockholm-based, 35-member International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), which initiated the letter, EU member states and some of its key partners are at risk of facing the rise of “anti-democratic political actors”.

In a report last month, International IDEA said voters in 19 countries — among them, three of the world’s largest democracies — are sceptical about how free and fair their political elections are, with many favouring a strong, undemocratic leader.

The IDEA letter lists 10 proposals focuses on two main areas:

  1. Strengthening democracy and rule of law within the EU to repel such challenges as extremism, election interference, dissemination of manipulative information and threats to journalists.
  2. Urging the EU to stick with its founding principles by confronting security, migration, energy and trade pressures, while calling on it to ensure that democracy remains at the core of its external and enlargement agendas, in order to protect electoral integrity and secure adequate resources.

That there are challenges to democracy within the EU’s borders is common knowledge, Kevin Casas-Zamora, secretary-general of the International IDEA, told Associated Press. Protecting the credibility “of the EU’s message on democracy” is key, he added, noting “the very unpromising winds that are blowing when it comes to democracy globally.”

Among the letter’s signatories are former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and several former prime ministers, including Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain and Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine.

In the upcoming 6 to 9 June election, 450 million people in the 27 EU member states will be selecting the 720 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to represent them and legislate on their behalf for the next five years.

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