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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
6 April 2012

The EU Election Observation Mission in Senegal

A presidential election took place in Senegal on 26 February 2012 amidst controversy over the constitutional validity of a third term for incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade.

While the country’s 2001 constitution limits a President to two terms, Wade argued that his 2000 election to his first seven-year term fell under the previous constitution, which did not provide for term limits.

At the invitation of the Government of Senegal, the European Union established a mission to observe the elections. The mission, jointly managed and implemented by the FPI and the European External Action Service (EEAS), comprised over 90 observers from most of the 27 EU countries. Thijs Berman, Member of the European Parliament, headed the mission as Chief Observer.

The observers were deployed throughout the country. They met with government and electoral officials, candidates and political parties as well as civil society representatives and the media.

In a run-off election on 25 March 2012, Macky Sall defeated the incumbent and the country saw a peaceful transition of power to the new administration.

Making a difference for democracy

The presence of the EU observers during the elections in Senegal helped guarantee a credible electoral process for the voters and candidates alike. Without them, things could have taken a very different turn. The mission was perceived as having both a deterrent and a dissuasive effect on possible manipulation and fraud in all regions across the country.

A spokesman for EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said the election was "a great victory for democracy in Senegal and in Africa".

Facts & figures

Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the FPI finances and organises, jointly with the European External Action Service, EU missions to observe and assess elections in partner countries with a view to ensuring they are fair and democratic.

Notable elections observed by the EU and financed by FPI in 2012 included Senegal and Libya.

The annual budget is approximately EUR 38 million, with up to 10 full-fledged missions deployed around the world each year.