Different points of view were made concerning the question of postal ballots and the opening remarks made by the Chair. Some delegates suggested that developing countries were not so concerned with the issue of postal ballots, and that their use on demand should not necessarily be seen as incorrect, but rather a matter of national preference relative to local conditions, and that 'international electoral standards' as the conference theme should be replaced by electoral standards alone. Further meetings should deal mainly with countries where basic institutions of democratic government are difficult to establish securely due to civil strife.

Against this view however it was argued that the concept of international electoral standards was both valid and recognised in international law. The demand that elections be held on the basis of a secret ballot is itself one such standard, and is stipulated in article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In regard to developing countries, diplomatic concern had already been expressed to the CDRSB by such states, including Ghana, in the preparations for the conference. Concern was that misguided, short sighted attempts to deal with problems of voter participation in the older democracies though not of pressing concern at this stage could have harmful effects at some later stage, since international electoral standards could be lowered, and general conditions regarding electoral fraud and corruption made more difficult, with serious consequences for developing states.

Similarly although the question of postal ballots did not presently concern developing states issues of conflict in any one country are connected ultimately to international affairs and more usually reflect differences of a social and political nature which are of a longstanding, chronic character between the opposing standpoints of radicalism and conservatism on a world historical scale.

The CDRSB has made plain the view that although postal ballots on demand have been presented as a purely general, cross party matter of concern regarding falling levels of voter turnout in the older democracies, the problem of factional self interest in the promotion of such practices could still be discerned. In general it is the Left which has been most adversely affected by falling turnout, and it is accordingly the Left which is mainly responsible for these changes throughout the world. Although the recent growth in the use of postal ballots on demand has not been opposed systematically by the Right, it is radicalism which is nevertheless the chief advocate of such changes in electoral procedure. Political support for all parties has been adversely affected by demographic changes - and these are serious because younger generations have a disproportionately low propensity to vote, which may lead to a catastrophic decline in turnout within a couple of decades - but further to this the traditional constituency of left support is also diminishing due to economic forces. The industrial working class is proportionately smaller in the technologically advanced countries than previously. It is the Left, therefore, that has the greater motive to lower electoral standards for purposes of factional self interest, and this should be taken into account in initiatives seeking to bring about a satisfactory resolution of these difficulties.

A further consideration is that communist parties have been committed to the overthrow of democracy. There is no Chinese wall between the social democratic and communist wings of global radicalism, as can be seen in the composition of the Socialist International, which has become increasingly influenced by leftism, such as espoused by the Sandinistas. At the root of differences regarding electoral practice are problems of political participation and social conflict that have afflicted modern society since the Enlightenment concerning the relationship between politics and common sense. Failure to address the issue of postal ballots on demand can also indicate a failure to address these general problems in an honest, non-partisan manner. Global poverty and the struggle against tyranny in all countries cannot be properly addressed without at the same time tackling these difficulties in a comprehensive way. This is taken into account by the CDRSB and is addressed comprehensively in the historical analysis submitted in this report, and is reflected both in its content and consistency and also in the fact that opinion surveys show our demands in this regard are supported by over two thirds of the British electorate.

On this basis the CDRSB view is that democratic participation can best be improved not by lowering electoral standards in regard to the use of absentee ballots, but by making greater use of sortition in electoral process and greatly increasing, accordingly, the number of citizens paid for political work. A consensus was reached in regard to these points and the following proposals: First, that an International Forum on Electoral Standards (IFES) be formed with the purpose of inviting formal government affiliation to it. As previously stated this should not be confused with 'IFES,' the NGO contracting body responsible for the development of democracy in Iraq. Second, that opinion among the international community be sought and recorded in regard to the use of postal ballots on demand in their relation to the standards implied by Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights concerning the secrecy of the ballot. Third, that a conference on international electoral standards be organised. Fourth, that in regard to the report of the general debate of the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (the UN Third Committee) to the Sixtieth Regular Session of the UN General Assembly an amendment to Draft Resolution Thirteen on Strengthening the role of the United Nations in Enhancing the Effectiveness of the Principle of Periodic and Genuine Elections and the Promotion of Democratization be formulated and UN permanent missions, including the USA, be invited to support it. Fifth, that the Community of Democratic Nations be approached in regard to cooperation in matters of electoral standards and conflict management.

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