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A step towards independent electoral media coverage of local elections in Armenia

A step towards independent electoral media coverage of local elections in Armenia

In order to improve the media coverage of the electoral campaign and local election days (28 September and 2 October), two training sessions on the rights and responsibilities of reporters during elections, detection of electoral fraud and independent electoral coverage for journalists were organized for a total of 50 journalists by the Association of investigative journalists  “Hetq”. The trainings, which took place in the framework of the PCF project “Long-term electoral assistance to the election related stakeholders of Armenia” funded by the European Union, were followed by the creation of the ‘hotline’ in Hetq Online (www.hetq.am), where citizens had the opportunity to report about electoral irregularities and violations and the installation of a mobile media team, able to respond immediately to the reports of incidents in the hotline.

Additionally, five studio debates with candidates and election related stakeholders were organised at the “Hetq Studio” and published online. The guests in the studio debate discussed recent electoral developments in Armenia, issues that candidates face during election campaigns and e-day and ways to improve electoral processes in the country.

The studio guests of the first three debates were female mayoral candidates of 2016 local elections who decided, as one of them stated in the studio debate, “to nominate her candidacy in order to bring change to the community and make the voice of women and youth heard”.

During the fourth studio debate peculiarities of local elections taking place at present and changes in the chain of candidate-voter that took place within the last 25 years were discussed with a professor of Sociology Department of Yerevan State University, while the last studio debate with representatives from Domestic Observer Organizations took place after the local elections and focused on the question whether the elections results reflected the free will of voters or not.