"The Court has consistently highlighted the importance of the democratic principles underlying the interpretation and application of the Convention and emphasised that the rights guaranteed under Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 are crucial to establishing and maintaining the foundations of an effective and meaningful democracy governed by the rule of law (see Hirst v. the United Kingdom (no. 2) [GC], no. 74025/01, § 58, ECHR 2005-IX). Nonetheless, those rights are not absolute. There is room for “implied limitations”, and Contracting States are given a margin of appreciation in this sphere (see Matthews v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 24833/94, § 63, ECHR 1999-I; Labita v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 201, ECHR 2000-IV; and Podkolzina v. Latvia, no. 46726/99, § 33, ECHR 2002-II). The margin of appreciation is also wide as regards the choice of electoral system (see Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt, cited above, § 54). There are numerous ways of organising and running electoral systems and a wealth of differences, inter alia, in historical development, cultural diversity and political thought within Europe which it is for each Contracting State to mould into its own democratic vision (see Hirst (no. 2), cited above, § 61). "
DocumentCoE (ECHR): Case of Karimov v. Azerbaijan, para. 35
- While no electoral system is prescribed by international law, the system chosen must be consistent with international obligations and should be clearly stated in law.
- Limits placed on the right to vote must be based on objective and reasonable criteria.
- Limits on those wishing to run for office must be based on objective and reasonable criteria.