According to the transcript from the Overseas Territories Governance debate yesterday [Dec 11] in Westminster, two Conservative UK MPs said they were “disappointed” about the Bermudian government’s decision not to have UK election observers.
The Bermuda Government responded, saying reports that they refused requests from the Governor and/or the UK Government to allow Election Observers to be present are inaccurate, as no such requests have been directed to the Government of Bermuda.
They also noted that they laid out their position in the 2011 response to the OT White Paper consultation, which said: “Bermuda has a strong, vibrant democracy supported by good governance and accountability.
“In these circumstances, the Government of Bermuda would wish Her Majesty’s Government to acknowledge this fact and not involve itself in any attempts to institute election monitoring in Bermuda.”
Speaking yesterday in the UK, Conservative MP Mark Simmonds said: “I have to say that we are slightly disappointed that Bermuda has not recognised the need for election observers.
“The Governor of Bermuda has suggested to the Premier that as a sign of a mature, advanced and open democracy the country might invite an external independent team — perhaps a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association group — to observe its elections, but unfortunately the Government have decided not to do so.
“I raised the issue with the Bermudan [sic] Attorney-General and Minister of Justice last week, and she assured me that she would reflect our views to the Premier. Interestingly, the example I gave her was the comparison with North Korea, which the hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife mentioned earlier. It is a positive sign, rather than a negative one, to accept external election observers.
Conservative MP Sir Alan Haselhurst [pictured] said: “I think that we ought to promote as standard the idea that there should be available to the territories, first, the possibility of election observation missions and, secondly, post-election seminars.
“It was therefore rather disappointing — I do not know whether the Minister will be able to comment on this — that the Bermudian Government in the end decided that they did not wish to take up that possibility. It ought to be seen as a non-threatening exercise that is of positive value in the territories involved.”
For the full text of the debate in the UK please see here.
A statement from Government about the matter said: “The Cabinet Office advised today that reports that Government refused requests from the Governor and/or the United Kingdom (UK) Government to allow Election Observers to be present for next week’s General Election are inaccurate. No such requests have been directed to the Government of Bermuda.
A Cabinet spokesperson said, “Bermuda certainly values its important relationship with the UK as there are significant areas of cooperation and mutual benefit between the two jurisdictions.
“As it relates to this particular matter of election monitoring, the Bermuda Government clearly and publicly articulated its position on the issue one year ago. It is referenced in the Introductory section our December 2011 response to the OT White Paper consultation as point number 10:
‘10. The final point relates to the democratic principle of non-interference in domestic political affairs where there is a long history and tradition of stable government and seamless transitions between different administrations following general elections.
Bermuda has a strong, vibrant democracy supported by good governance and accountability. In these circumstances, the Government of Bermuda would wish Her Majesty’s Government to acknowledge this fact and not involve itself in any attempts to institute election monitoring in Bermuda.’
“This continues to be Government’s stance on the matter,” the Cabinet office spokesperson concluded.