2023 Timor-Leste Parliamentary Elections: Celebrating Independence through Genuine Elections

The Asian Network for Free Elections said in their final comprehensive observation report on the 2023 Timor-Leste Parliamentary Elections that the polls were marked by peace, genuineness and transparency.

ANFREL said the elections were participated by several political parties and saw a vibrant and peaceful election campaign environment with only a few reports of violence. The report was released today, 18 July 2023, while an interim statement was released on 21 May 2023. 

ANFREL noted an increase in election observation efforts including that of groups of persons with disabilities which deployed observers to monitor accessibility of voting centers.

The Election Day, 21 May 2023, was observed to be orderly and peaceful. ANFREL noted the transparency in the vote counting and tabulation processes as the counting of votes was open to the public with party agents free to register complaints met with immediate ruling from polling officers. 

ANFREL offered a set of recommendations to further consolidate the gains and achievements of Timor-Leste in upholding democracy.

The publication of this report was made possible thanks to generous support from the Embassy of Canada to Indonesia and Timor-Leste and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

Download the full report here:2023 Timor-Leste Parliamentary Elections: Celebrating Independence through Genuine Elections

Read the Executive Summary below:

Executive Summary

The 2023 Parliamentary elections were the fifth parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste since its emergence as an independent, democratic nation in 2002. On February 13, 2023, the President of the Republic of Timor-Leste declared that early parliamentary elections would be held on 21 May 2023. Overall, the conduct of the 2023 Parliamentary elections was marked by peace, genuineness and transparency.  

The fundamental principle of a multi-party system, as provided in the 2002 Timor-Leste Constitution, was evidenced by the participation of 17 political parties in the 2023 Parliamentary elections. CNRT and FRETILIN are recognized as the two major political parties in the country. Aside from these two parties, PD, PLD and KHUNTO also attract considerable support as political forces.

The final results of the 2023 parliamentary elections were validated by the Court of Appeals on the 5th of June 2023. Along with the validated results, the Court of Appeals also released the list of the candidates elected to the parliament from each political party.

The validated results indicated that CNRT emerged as the leading party with 41.6% of the votes, followed by FRETILIN with 25.8%. The PLP received 5.9% of the vote, and KHUNTO secured 7.5% of the vote. The election results reflected a significant increase in CNRT’s seats, rising from 21 to 31. Conversely, both FRETILIN and PLP experienced a loss of four seats each, with FRETILIN going from 23 seats to 19 and PLP decreasing from eight seats to four. KHUNTO, however, managed to retain its five seats. Additionally, the Democratic Party (PD) secured six seats, representing 9.3% of the vote, an increase from their five seats in the 2017 parliamentary elections.

The legal framework for this election is essentially the same as for the last Parliamentary elections held in 2018. A proposed 5th amendment to the Parliament Electoral Law would have paved the way for a more inclusive electoral process by continuing the implementation of parallel voting centers, extending voting hours, allowing postal voting, and adopting the use of braille ballots, but it was not enacted prior to this year’s elections.  ANFREL recommends that this amendment be taken up again in the new Parliament.  

A marked increase in the election monitoring effort of election observer groups and persons with disabilities groups was also seen in this election. It was observed that systematic election observation methods were integrated by these election observer groups. PWD groups also deployed more observers on Election Day to monitor the accessibility of voting centers.

The campaign rallies of different political parties were vibrant all over the country. Compliance with CNE regulations was high. Aside from being vibrant, the overall campaign environment was peaceful, with few reports of violence during this period. For future electoral exercises, it is suggested that political parties ensure the accessibility of their campaign activities to persons with disabilities. It is further suggested, to increase transparency and accountability, that CNE study the feasibility of putting caps on expenses of, and donations to, political parties.

Election Day was orderly and peaceful. To increase the inclusiveness of future electoral exercises, ANFREL recommends that the government ensure the accessibility of voting centers.  ANFREL further recommends that parallel voting centers be used in the future.

Counting of votes at the voting centers was open to the general public to observe. Party agents were free to register their complaints on the counting of votes. Brigadas (polling officers) ruled immediately on these complaints. At the tabulation level, the same level of transparency was observed.

Download the full report here:2023 Timor-Leste Parliamentary Elections: Celebrating Independence through Genuine Elections



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