Few elections in the world are genuinely democratic, says Kofi Annan

When it was announced that the Barisan Nasional had won a simple majority, unhappy Malaysians flocked online to blast the coalition, refusing to accept the BN's return to power.

On Facebook, many Malaysians changed their profile photos to a black square as a sign of protest against the allegedly fraudulent electoral process while others churned out negative comments claiming that the election results had been tampered with, calling the results illegitimate.

For those of you who were awake late on Sunday night to catch the results of Malaysia's fiercest elections yet, you might have heard news of further tensions between BN and opposition supporters rising on the streets too.

Human barricades were formed in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, and in Johor Bahru, tensions arose among those who stood outside the municipal  council, where votes from the area’s constituencies were being tallied.

Related story: Dr M blames ungrateful Chinese and greedy Malays for BN’s worst performance

Reports said that both incidents occurred due to supporters’ allegations that cars approaching the counting stations were ferrying illegal votes.

If the allegations on fraud were true, Malaysia is not the only country experiencing this.

In light of the distrust over the country’s electoral process, Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security chairman Kofi Annan, released a statement saying that of all the countries that take part in elections, “fewer than 60% deserve to be called genuinely democratic”.

In his statement, which was posted on the Kofi Annan Foundation website, he said: While elections have been held in all but 11 countries around the world since 2000, fewer than 60 percent deserved to be called genuinely democratic.

The lack of democracy in the supposedly democratic process of the election, could “damage confidence” and cause a portion of the people to “deny” the legitimacy of the election winner, he said, describing the current nature of discontent among Malaysians.

“The result (of this) can be increased tensions and divisions while corruption and poor governance go unchecked.”

Related story: Utusan inciting racial sentiments to hide GE13 fraud, says Anwar

Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations, explained that securing a legitimate result also depends on the electoral events that precedes it. This includes allowing a “level playing field” for contesting
parties and ensuring confidence among voters that their results will be accurately reflected in the election outcome.

“Opposition parties must be free to organise and campaign without fear of intimidation. On polling day, voters must be able to cast their votes freely and with confidence in the secrecy and integrity of the ballot,” he added.

While a “rule of law” and institutions governing the election is required to do so, a culture that encourages and accepts multiparty competition and division of power is also required for an electoral process to be deemed credible.

He also said that opposition parties should be allowed “access to a free and pluralistic media” and that the government should remove barriers that will hinder equal participation while regulating political finance that are “uncontrolled” and “undisclosed”.

Once the opposition parties and the voters are assured of this, he said: “We also need to see the result accepted no matter how disappointed the defeated candidates and their supporters feel.”

Related story: In BN win Najib faces tug-of-war between two Malaysias