The presidential election held in Portugal on 24 January 2021 was organized efficiently despite challenges and new provisions introduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but areas such as campaign financing and media regulations would benefit from further revision. These are some of the main conclusions included in the final report on Portugal’s 2021 presidential election, as published by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The report offers 18 recommendations to improve the conduct of elections and to increase transparency and public confidence in the electoral process.
Key recommendations include:
- To consolidate the election legislation in order to increase its accessibility and transparency, and to avoid any inconsistencies
- To review the appointment process for polling station commissions so as to maintain their impartiality and professionality
- To amend the election legislation in order to guarantee that citizen and international observers can follow all stages of the election process
- To shorten the timelines for submission and verification of campaign finance reports
- To grant institutional and financial autonomy to the Entity on Political Finance and Accounts to enable it to perform its oversight role in an effective and timely manner
- To repeal criminal penalties for defamation in favour of civil sanctions with a reasonable financial penalty
- To revise the legal framework on media coverage of elections to provide sufficient guarantees for editorial freedom while respecting the right of all candidates to present their programs
- To promptly and diligently investigate all allegations of hate speech made during the election period that may lead to intolerance and infringement of basic rights, while respecting the freedom of speech
ODIHR deployed an Election Expert Team on 11 January 2021 to observe the presidential election. All 57 countries across the OSCE region have formally committed to follow up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.