Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 17:53 UK

Election 2010: Commonwealth monitors watch UK election

Ballot box
The team have been surprised by the amount of voter apathy in the UK

A team of observers from Commonwealth countries has arrived in the UK to watch how the election is conducted and suggest how it could be improved.

It will be the first time a Commonwealth team has observed elections in a developed country.

They will observe candidates' campaigns, polling stations and the count, before submitting final reports.

Already voter apathy in the UK has surprised the 11 observers from Africa and Asia.

Issues like voter apathy, party funding and the electoral system have also been raised.

The trip has been organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, with the aim of gaining insight into the UK's electoral process and share lessons from their own countries.

The observers include young parliamentarians from Bangladesh, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

'Much to learn'

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, director of the RCS, said for "far too long" election observation had been a one-way street.

"Given how much effort has gone into designing strong democratic systems and electoral processes in many developing Commonwealth countries, Britain has much to learn from the rest of the world," he said.

There was already a "lot of intrigue" from the team over various aspects of the electoral system, Dr Sriskandarajah said, including how much the UK relies on trust when it comes to voting processes, and why Britain has opted for the first past the post system.

"Voter apathy has also attracted comment. Almost all of the team come from countries where election day is a huge deal for many people. Already, in two days, many are struck by how little fuss is being made about politicians and the election," he said.

"Most of these countries have higher turn out and they are genuinely curious about that."

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