2021 Municipal Elections Final monitoring report
The 2021 municipal elections took place against the backdrop of a global pandemic, which again posed a challenge to the organization of elections as well as to the rights of voters and other actors involved in the electoral process. The election was preceded by a long political crisis and extreme polarization. Based an agreement reached by the political parties on 19 April, the reservation that early parliamentary elections would be held in case the ruling party failed to receive more than 43 per cent of the popular vote nationwide, turned the self-government elections into a crucial event at the national level. The mainstream issue of the pre-election campaign centered around the discussion of personal confrontations between national political leaders instead of solving problems of local importance.
Municipal elections were more or less competitive; Election Day was largely well administered. However, the financial and administrative resources concentrated in the hands of the ruling party prevented the provision of an equal electoral environment. The electoral environment was damaged by the high number of cases of pressure, threats, dismissal or coercion on political grounds, and the inappropriate response of the state to such cases. Suspicious gatherings, voter tracking, organized transportation, alleged bribery, and other irregularities around polling stations were significant problems in both rounds and had a negative impact on trust towards the electoral process. The combination of irregularities and trends identified during the second round of elections may have affected the results in some municipalities, where the difference between the winning and losing candidates was minimal.