Take an in-depth look at a subject or a region related to International IDEA's work.
The post-2015 agenda: the need for a democratic governance perspective
As UN Member States focus on the post-2015 development agenda, they could do no better than to reflect on the results of a recent UN conducted survey in which millions of people throughout the world listed honest and responsive government as one of their top priorities. As a recent meeting in New York shows, there is still some way to go before such aims are translated into action.
The Challenges Santos Faces
He's won the election, but what's next for Santos and the peace process? International IDEA's Daniel Zovatto investigates.
Santos and Zuluaga in Heart-Stopping Second Round
The presidential election in Colombia on 25 May had a surprising outcome. The surprising fact was not Zuluaga’s win over Santos, but the difference between them: 29.25% vs. 25.69%, meaning almost 460,000 votes.
European elections and campaign finance: show us the money
What role does money play in European elections, and how is it regulated? Such questions need to be addressed to ensure the integrity of Europe's democratic processes, says IDEA’s Samuel Jones in an article published by openDemocracy on 20 May 2014.
Indian elections and the fruits of democracy
On 16 May, Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janta party to a record victory in India’s 16th national election. Here an insider’s perspective of the elections by Shailaja Chandra.
European Parliament elections and beyond
Ahead of the European Parliament elections in May 2014, the Office of International IDEA to the European Union (EUO) has been busy working with partners to produce and disseminate knowledge resources that highlight different key aspects of democracy building related to the elections and the institution as such.
Panama stands up for alternation
2.5 million Panamanians put an end to the ruling party’s attempt to remain in office on 4 May 2014 and reasserted their faith in democracy and in alternation, when they cast their votes to elect the President, a Vice-President, 71 deputies, and the officials for many local and regional positions.
Politics meets policies
A political party that embraces a clear set of policies or programme to reach out to citizens is more likely to listen, reflect and address citizens’ views. How does such a programmatic party come about?
International IDEA has recently studied this phenomenon and the results are presented in a new book, "Politics Meets Policies: The Emergence of Programmatic Parties".
Democratic governance matters for sustainable development
On 9 May, IDEA’s Permanent Observer to the UN addressed a group of Permanent Representatives and Heads of Delegations to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals on the need for promoting inclusive, accountable and effective institutions in the post-2015 Development Agenda.
Run offs in Latin America: methods and trends
Second round, run off ballots (ballotage), are currently the trend in Latin America: of the seven presidential elections expected this year, a second round is provided for legally in six countries (Panama is the sole exception).
Beware of the Pax Mafioso
Corruption plagues many democracies, emerging or otherwise. In an article published by FP/Democracy Lab, IDEA’s Kristen Sample gives a few tips for those who want to fight back.
Indonesia’s legislative elections: innovations and aspirations
Indonesians at home go back to polls for the fourth time since the fall of Soeharto to vote in general legislative elections this Wednesday, 9 April 2014. And for the first time in its history, Indonesians residing overseas get to vote on a different date than their fellow citizens in Indonesia.
Empowering change and actions
On the occasion of the 2014 International Women’s Day, International IDEA joins the rest of the world in awareness raising and celebrating women with the theme Empowering change and action. For International IDEA this presents an opportunity to salute all women across the world for defending the rights of women in all spheres of life and the implementation of empowering change and actions.
Tunisia’s new constitution: progress and challenges to come
"Most Tunisians agree that their new constitution is an advance, despite the imperfections. The people’s new democratic spirit is what will make Tunisia a success, and it will hopefully serve as an inspiration for the entire Arab region in times to come."
Reelection, continuity and hyper-presidentialism in Latin America
On 28 January 2014, the Nicaraguan Congress ratified a game-changing reform allowing the indefinite and reelection of the President. This makes Nicaragua the second country in the region to allow indefinite presidential reelection after Venezuela did the same thing in 2009. But this trend is apparent elsewhere as well.
Testing Thai democracy
Thailand’s democracy will be tested again on Sunday 2 February 2014 at general elections called in response to the street protests that have been taking place since November 2013
Latin America in 2014: Elections and Football
Just when football passions start to simmer, fights for political power in Latin America are also in the making because 2014 will be a year of intense electoral activity in Latin America. More than 50% of Latin American citizens will be summoned to cast their vote. There will be seven presidential elections in total —in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay— and local, regional, and legislative elections in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, and Haiti. And, also this year (who can forget!) the FIFA World Cup will be held in Brazil.
Latin America 2013: political and electoral balance
2013 was an intense year in Latin America, full of important developments, including the death of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro’s succession via tight and questioned elections; Rafael Correa’s re-election in Ecuador and the return of Michelle Bachelet to power in Chile.
Michelle Bachelet wins Chile election run-off
Just as most analysts had been predicting for months, Michelle Bachelet will again occupy Chile’s presidential chair. In the presidential run-off held on 15 December 2013, the candidate of the center-left Nueva Mayoría (the old Concertación Party plus the Partido Comunista) prevailed strongly with 62.2% of the votes.
Dirty money in politics
Violence originating from organized crime is widely known to have destabilized State institutions in countries like Guatemala and Colombia. Yet money has increasingly become the preferred tool for these networks to influence politics. International IDEA and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) explored this theme during the panel discussion: "Dirty money: breaking the link between organized crime and politics" in London on 11 December 2013.
Annual Democracy Forum 2013: youth engagement in politics
Today there are 1.2 billion youth worldwide between the ages of 15 and 24, and yet young people have limited influence in national political institutions. The discussions during International IDEA’s Annual Democracy Forum, in Santiago, Chile on 27-28 November 2013, highlighted the challenges to youth participation in politics and elections, putting forward policy solutions to foster youth participation in these areas.
High security polling for Nepal’s Constituent Assembly
The last ten days before the vote have been marked by shutdowns and violent disruptions by the protesting parties that have been calling for an election boycott. But the people are determined to vote and the threats of violence did not keep them away from polling stations.
The making of Nepal’s second constituent assembly
Nepalese have gone to the polls across the country today to elect a new Constituent Assembly (CA) which is expected to finalize Nepal’s protracted constitution making process. A previous CA elected in 2008 was disbanded and the process suspended in May 2012 after it failed to agree on a constitution.
Presidential election in Chile
Political analysts agree that there is no major uncertainty about who will win the presidential election in Chile on 17 November 2013: Michelle Bachelet. The former president (2006-10) has enjoyed high popularity levels in these past four years of centre-right rule.
Legislature elections in Argentina
The legislative elections held on 27 October put an end to the re-relection project launched by Cristina Fernandez-Kirchner (CFK) and defined the starting line for the 2015 presidential race, which is likely to be very open because by constitutional rule the incumbent president cannot run.
How to include minorities and marginalized groups in constitution building
“Women do not represent women in my country. They represent the voices of the men, the families that surround them, and their political party: but not women. They are not feminists,” according to Basma Soudani, from The League of Tunisian Female Voters in Tunisia, as we sat down for an interview.
Latin America: A new electoral cycle
2013 is a landmark electoral year in Latin America. Earlier this year Rafael Correa was re-elected in Ecuador, Nicolas Maduro won in Venezuela, and the Colorado Party, led by Horacio Cartes, made a comeback in Paraguay. In the coming three months, the electoral schedule includes four important events for the region.
International network launched to counter organized crime
Vidar Helgesen, Secretary-General of International IDEA, is member of the first of three panel debates, Organized Crime, Democracy, Development, and State Fragility, at the launch of The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime in New York on 19 September 2013
A decade of citizen-led assessments of democracy
Some 80 people from around the world met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 16–18 September 2013, to discuss citizens as the driving force behind democracy assessment processes, at the conference ’Citizen-led Assessments of Democracy: A Decade of Experiences from Around the World.’
Latin America suffers reelection fever
"The strengthening and consolidation of our still fragile democracies do not rest in the hands of charismatic and providential leaders", says IDEA's Daniel Zovatto in his latest analysis.
Brazil: A Spring in Autumn?
IDEA Board member Prof Lourdes Sola reflects on the protests that took place in Brazil throughout June: “despite the perplexing nature of what happened, many perceive this to be a chronicle of a foretold rising”.
International IDEA facilitates inter-regional dialogue focused on Rule of Law
Dedicated to the Rule of Law, the Third High Level Meeting of the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy met in Brussels, Belgium on 27-28 May 2013. Chaired by International IDEA Secretary-General Vidar Helgesen, the Meeting highlighted the experiences and achievement of Regional Organizations, as well as the EU and UN in promoting Rule of Law.
Venezuela without Chávez: 2013 electoral scenarios
2013 presents a range of unknowns in Venezuelan politics. Support for Chávez’ political and economic legacy and the alternative model offered by the opposition will be tested at the poll on Sunday 14 April.
Agents of Change: Yousra Fraous, the Arab Institute for Human Rights
Since the revolution of January 2011, IDEA has been following closely the transition to democracy in Tunisia. Over the two past years, the Institute has strengthened its presence on the ground to provide support to the ongoing constitutional process.
International IDEA's Anissa Daboussi spoke with Yousra Fraous, a lawyer working for the Arab Institute for Human Rights, and member of civil society organizations including the Tunisian Association of Democrat Women (ATFD) and the Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development (AFTURD). She is an expert on women’s rights and gender issues.
“Who we elect in Kenya next will really determine our future”
Concerns for a peaceful election are running high for the 4 March elections in Kenya after the previous experience of 2007 when the poll was marked by ethnic violence. International IDEA spoke with IDEA colleague Joan Sawe, Director of Corporate Services and Kenyan, about her reflections.
Elections in Ecuador: no doubt about the victory, but questions about the political future
President Rafael Correa was reelected in a landslide, with 55 percent of the vote on the first ballot and an absolute majority in the National Assembly.
Surveys, analysts, past election results and popular sentiment led to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s reelection to another four-year term in the first round of balloting on 17 February. The election, which drew widespread international attention, went smoothly and was marked by massive voter turnout.
An insider’s perspective
In a series of interviews, IDEA is speaking with Electoral Management Bodies from its 27 Member States, bringing their daily work closer to our readers. In this Q&A, IDEA had some questions for the EMB of Costa Rica.
2013: A key year for Latin America
2013 is a year loaded with symbolism for the region. Latin America celebrates the 35th anniversary of the Third Democratic Wave; and has just experienced a decade of major progress both in economic and social terms.
The link between politics and organized crime in the Andean region
Since 2011 International IDEA has led a global initiative called “Protecting Legitimacy in Politics ”, looking at the threats transnational crime pose to the legitimacy of democratic politics around the world, including in the Baltic States and Latin America. As part of generating empirical knowledge, a series of case studies on the Andean Region have been prepared.
An insider’s perspective
In a series of interviews, IDEA is speaking with Electoral Management Bodies from its 27 Member States, bringing their daily work closer to our readers. In this first interview, IDEA had some questions for the EMB of Canada.
No societies without political parties
How can political parties appeal more to citizen activists and others who are not party members? Should assistance providers focus more on fixing the political party shortcomings that citizen-led movements expose? Following the popular uprisings in the Arab World and elsewhere, politicians and political party assistance providers are increasingly stuck with these questions.
Nepal: “Constitution building hijacked by the need for consensus”
Mr Bhoj Raj Pokharel, former Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, attended International IDEA’s Democracy Forum held on 26-27 November 2012 in Canberra. On his return, he spoke to IDEA’s Leena Rikkila Tamang about political developments in Nepal since the Peace Agreement and the Constituent Assembly (CA) election (2008), and he explored the reasons behind the failure of the CA to produce a new constitution and the challenges the country is facing when planning for the new CA elections.
An insider’s perspective
In a Q&A series, Electoral Management Bodies from IDEA's 27 Member States, talk about their daily work. Here we meet the EMB of Mongolia.
Egypt's draft constitution: an analysis
The text of the Egyptian state's new constitution is reaching a critical juncture. How does it measure up to fundamental rights and principles, and accord with recent constitutional practice elsewhere in the world?
Venezuela: The mother of all elections
“Reinvigorated but full of uncertainty, Venezuelans face an historic election on 7 October. The outcome will be felt across Latin America”, writes IDEA’s Daniel Zovatto
An insider’s perspective
In a series of interviews, IDEA is speaking with Electoral Management Bodies from its 27 Member States, bringing their daily work closer to our readers. In this first interview, IDEA had some questions for the EMB of Namibia.
“Elections in Nepal remain vulnerable to violence”
On 3 September 2012, International IDEA presented its Electoral Risk Management Tool to the staff of Nepal’s Election Commission (ECN), at the newly established Election Education and Information Center (EEIC) in Kathmandu.
The interplay between democracy, politics and energy in the MENA region
The Middle East North Africa (MENA) region is experiencing a shift in its political and social landscape as citizens throughout the region are mobilizing for greater dignity and freedom. This political awakening is a response to the decades-long dominance of systems of
economic and political exclusion, which have stalled economic progress, created enormous wealth distribution gaps, endemic corruption, high unemployment and soaring inflation. The popular rage relates not least to the way the considerable resource wealth of the region is
The new landscape of Mexican politics
The official results of the Mexican presidential elections were delivered on 8 July, 2012 by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE in Spanish) – the independent agency in charge of supervising electoral processes in Mexico.
Cinco preguntas para entender el nuevo mapa político de México
Los resultados oficiales entregados el 8 de julio por el Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE), la agencia estatal autónoma encargada de supervisar los procesos electorales en México, arrojan los siguientes resultados para los comicios presidenciales: 38,21% para Enrique Peña Nieto (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI); 31,59% para Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD); 25,41% para Josefina Vázquez Mota (Partido de Acción Nacional, PAN), y 2,29% para Gabriel Quadri de la Torre (Partido Nueva Alianza, PANAL).
An insider's perspective
In a series of interviews, IDEA is speaking with Electoral Management Bodies from its 27 Member States, bringing their daily work closer to our readers. In this interview, IDEA had some questions for the EMB of Botswana.
Tackling the influence of criminal networks over democratic politics in the Baltic States
On 5, 12 and 19 June 2012, International IDEA and the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP) held a series of national dialogues in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. These events were part of IDEA’s global initiative entitled “Protecting Legitimacy in Politics” that supports locally-led efforts to counteract the relations between criminal networks and political actors in various countries.
Elections in Mexico: what’s at stake?
On Sunday, 1 July 2012, 80 million Mexicans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots in electing their President for the next six years. But they are also electing around 2,100 public officials, including 500 federal deputies and 128 senators, as well as six state governors, including one for Mexico City.
The electoral agenda in Latin America 2012
The recent presidential elections in the Dominican Republic (20 May 2012) launched the presidential electoral agenda for the year with two other equally important elections taking place in Mexico and Venezuela.
No constitution yet for Nepal
The days leading up to the 27 May deadline for the Constituent Assembly (CA) to finalize the constitution were marked by intense negotiations, protests rallies, tension and shutdowns around the country. In a dramatic turn of events, the government dissolved the CA late at night on 27 May when political party leaders failed to come to an agreement on a federal structure and the constitution therefore remained unfinalized.
An insider’s perspective
In a series of interviews, IDEA is speaking with Electoral Management Bodies from its 27 Member States, bringing their daily work closer to our readers. In this second interview, IDEA had some questions for the EMB of Barbados.
An insider’s perspective
In a series of interviews, IDEA is speaking with Electoral Management Bodies from its 27 Member States, bringing their daily work closer to our readers. In this first interview, IDEA had some questions for the EMB of Finland.
صراخ مشروع من أجل الحياة
On 15 March 2011 a group of children of the sadly now famous city of Deraa, on their way out of school, wrote the first slogans on street walls calling for democracy and change of the authoritarian regime in Syria.
Sharing knowledge without blueprints
Launch of IDEA's "A Practical Guide to Constitution Building", 5 March 2012: International advisers need share their experiences with constitution framers if invited, but strenuously avoid getting involved in decision-making.
Has democracy delivered for Dalit women?
To honor the struggle of the minority group Dalit of Nepal, International IDEA assists with translating their demands into legal and constitutional language. Read about 3 Dalit women and what they have achieved.
The Arab Spring – almost a year underway
Since the day when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Dec. 2010 igniting the Arab youth revolution, the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan people have undergone a long and painful process to topple their long dictatorships.
The 2011 Latinobarometer has found that Latin Americans are dissatisfied -and demand more from their democracies, institutions, and governments.
Despite the region’s economic recovery - after the global financial crisis - the truth is that most countries have not been able to maintain the optimism they recorded last year. The prevailing feeling in 2011 is one of discontent and pessimism, particularly Central America.
The Arab Spring delivers its first democratic elections
The Tunisian people, having set in motion the first footstep of the Arab Spring, has yesterday completed a first round of its nascent democracy by delivering the first ever democratic and genuinely competitive elections.
IDEA in Egypt and Tunisia; in the middle of the making of new constitutions
Although Egypt and Tunisia are yet to formally start their constitutional drafting processes, much preparatory work is currently underway. Part of IDEA’s efforts in Egypt and Tunisia focuses on contributing towards the respective country efforts in the design and process for drafting their permanent constitutions.
Tenth Anniversary of the Inter-American Democratic Charter
September 11 this year marked the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks carried out by Al Qaeda against the United States of America. It was also the tenth anniversary of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC), which was signed in Lima, Peru, during the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).
Constitutional reform in the Arab world: the struggle for new social contracts
The construction of new nations, reflecting the views and aspirations of their own people, means that new “social contracts” are needed. In fact, one of the main sources of anger triggering the uprisings may be found in existing constitutional constructs that do not provide even for the minimal level of genuine democratic rule and principles.
“The principle of attaining citizenship is closely tied with equality”
The problems of citizenship in Nepal carry a legacy of a history of discrimination and marginalization of women. As a result, many people are left stateless and have no rights. If constitutional and political reform is to be meaningful, this issue needs to be addressed to ensure that citizenship, a fundamental right for all people, is available for all.
Democracy and development in Latin America: opportunities and challenges
Latin America is unique when it comes to democracy and development. On the one hand, nearly all countries enjoy democratic regimes. On the other hand, vast sectors of the population live under the poverty line (close to 33%). Latin America has the most unequal income distribution and also the highest homicide rates in the world.
The New Sudan: nothing can be taken for granted
South Sudan is about to become the world's newest nation this weekend. After over 30 years of armed conflict with North Sudan, the southern part officially becomes a sovereign nation on 9 July 2011, following the referendum earlier this year.
Obsessed with power
"We want all of them to go away," was the desperate cry the citizens of Argentina hurled at the political elite in late 2001 as the crisis that started the year before dragged on. A similar scenario occurred in other Latin American countries too.
Constitutional Court: new institution proposed in Nepal's Constitution
Which institution should have the jurisdiction to interpret the constitution? How should dispute settlement between the provinces and the Kathmandu be addressed? Which institution should oversee the legality of the bodies set up in the Constitution? How can access to justice and trust in the judiciary be improved?
Promoting gender parity in Africa
Achieving success in building sustainable democratic systems in countries emerging from conflicts depends on whether new and emerging governance structures are based on the principles of inclusive and effective participation and representation.
Central American democracy dialogue
“Democracy for Peace, Security and Development” was the theme of the Sub-Regional Dialogue of the members of the Central American Integration System (SICA) and Mexico, held in Costa Rica in May 2011.
Democracy and the Tide of History
“We need to commit ourselves to decades of support for the long term process of building democracy” writes Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd and IDEA’s Secretary-General Vidar Helgesen in an op-ed today.
Nepal and Egypt: some striking parallels
In Egypt, the people took 18 days to force political change and reform. In Nepal in 2006 they took 19 days but that was the easy part: from day 20 onwards it got more complicated. Both countries show some remarkable parallels.
State of Local Democracy in the Arab world – a pointer to the future
Citizen- led State of Local Democracy assessments conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Yemen between 2008-10 provide a view of the overall challenges facing democracy in the region. The studies should be read by anyone with an interest in what is going on right now in the Arab world.
Women behind Nepal’s constitution – a personal story
International IDEA has been supporting the Women's Caucus of the Constituent Assembly (CA) since its formation in early 2009. Here is a story of one of the CA members, a story based on her struggle, hopes and perseverance to bring people’s democracy and a federal republic to Nepal.
Women's rights to be incorporated in Nepal’s new constitution
The Women's Caucus of the Constituent Assembly (CA) has published its position paper entitled - Women's Rights and Agenda to be incorporated in the New Constitution. The recommendations by women CA members were prepared on the basis of preliminary draft reports and concept papers of the constitutional and thematic committees of the CA.
A Women's Day for All Egyptians
Over the past few weeks, observers across the world watched and admired the courageous acts of women and men in North Africa and the Middle East in defying authoritarian regimes and demonstrating their unwavering determination to take their future in their own hands.
Latin American Electoral Agenda 2011
As occurred over the last two years, in 2011 Latin America will again live through an intense electoral agenda with five presidential elections: Haiti, Peru, Guatemala, Argentina and Nicaragua.
S-G statement on the Arab world: It's time for the international community to try democracy
Both the world and the Arab region are changing and, in tandem with these changes, the demand for democracy appears to be returning with renewed vitality. Twenty two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, seventeen years after the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, thirteen years after the democratic reform in Indonesia, the 2011 democracy wave is about to engulf the Arab world.
New guide to electoral justice
Recent controversial elections in Cote d’Ivoire, Haiti and Egypt highlight the importance of having robust processes for resolving electoral disputes. Allegations of fraud and incidents of election-related violence have raised doubts in the eyes of many about the integrity of those results. As the post-electoral period unfolds in these countries, benchmarks for a credible electoral justice system could easily be tested with the help of a new handbook, Electoral Justice: The International IDEA Handbook, just published by International IDEA.
Democracy and electoral justice in Latin America
The deepening of democracy in Latin America – a phenomenon that has continued for the past 30 years – has much to do with the credibility of electoral bodies on the continent; particularly those responsible for handling grievances and determining electoral justice.
Nepal’s political parties discuss electoral justice reform
Nepal is currently reforming its electoral dispute resolution (EDR) mechanism as part of the development of its new electoral law. The aim is to have these arrangements included in the new constitution which is expected to be promulgated by May 2011, after which parliamentary elections will be held.
The democracy activist who will not vote
After having persistently called for elections, Aung San Suu Kyi has come out stating that she will not vote in the upcoming election 7 November: since the junta has dissolved her political party, she has no one to vote for.
Bolivian laws advance equality among men and women
In a little over a year, important advances have been made to incorporate a gender perspective in Bolivia’s constitutional process. Over two years ago, International IDEA and the Women’s Coordinator signed an agreement in order to identify the remaining gaps on women’s rights in current legislation. The agreement also includes a strategy to develop new constitutional legislation based on women’s needs.
Election-related conflict and violence…
...has become widespread and there is a pressing need for electoral assistance providers and others to come up with a means of mitigating conflict during elections. Read International IDEA’s report Towards a Global Framework for Managing and Mitigating Election-related Conflict and Violence
Politics and parties: without equality, far from parity
The new decade begins with the election of another woman president. Laura Chinchilla, candidate for the Partido Liberación Nacional, became chief executive of Costa Rica with 46.8 percent of the vote. In Chile, meanwhile, Michelle Bachelet is ending her term with an approval rating of 83 percent. Their stories are no longer mere anecdotes, but are charting a new course for women in Latin American politics.
Política y partidos: ajenos a la igualdad, distantes de la paridad
La nueva década en ciernes se inaugura con la elección de otra mujer a una Presidencia de la República. Laura Chinchilla, candidata del Partido Liberación Nacional, ha llegado al poder en Costa Rica con el 46.8% de los votos. Por otro lado, en Chile, Michele Bachelet concluye su mandato con niveles de aprobación que alcanzan el 83%. Estas trayectorias dejan de ser anécdotas para convertirse en los nuevos derroteros para las mujeres en la política latinoamericana.
International Women’s Day 2010
International IDEA pays tribute to women of the world on International Women’s Day (8th March) with the theme this year being Travelling the road towards the empowerment and advancement of women.
Bolivian women ready for politics: parties still need to be prodded
International IDEA’s Bolivia programme is working with a network of women’s organizations to mainstream gender equality into all aspects of political life. One notable success was the Mujeres listas para las listas (Women Ready for the Ballot) campaign, launched by the Women’s Coordinating Committee, which resulted in a legal provision for gender equality on party candidate lists.
Democracy at crossroads: the challenge of illicit finance in politics
Rarely has an International IDEA event managed to connect so directly a major political concern of a Member State with an emerging global challenge to democracy. It was a courageous and farsighted move on the part of President Calderón to propose, at the very beginning of Mexico’s chairmanship of International IDEA’s Council, “Illicit Finance in Politics” as the theme of the 2009 Democracy Round Table.
How can traditional justice mechanisms and processes be applied in the context of large-scale human rights abuses and mass killings? The International IDEA report Traditional Justice and Reconciliation after Violent Conflict – Learning from African Experiences, just released in French, presents the findings of a major comparative study of the role played by traditional mechanisms in dealing with the legacy of violent conflict across the continent.
Consolidating democracy through an institutional approach
One important truism is that democracy is not only an end in itself but also an important means to other ends. From that point of view the recent efforts by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), based in Stockholm, Sweden, to carefully examine the nexus between democracy and development and how it can contribute towards effective partnership between the European Union and the rest of the world deserves special mention.
Assessing the State of Local Democracy in a sensitive environment
For the past twenty years people in the Arab world have been urging their governments to join the new wave of democratization that has been sweeping the world. While not averse to the idea, their leaders have been reluctant simply to import Western models of participation. What was needed were new mechanisms for giving people a voice in keeping with their own local customs and traditions.
A Leap Forward on the Equator: Indonesia's 9 April Elections
When people of the Indonesian archipelago went to the polls last month (9 April 2009) it was a very different experience from usual. This time the traditional voting method of punching holes on ballots using nails had been replaced by something new.
Democracy and aid: the missing links
The political arguments over aid policies and strategies in Africa are intensifying. But where does democracy fit in: what are the pros and cons of aid in relation to democratic consolidation in the continent? Anna Lekvall takes the pulse of current thinking in a key area of debate among donors, scholars, activists and policy-makers.
Charting voting patterns in European Parliamentary elections
The forthcoming elections to the European Parliament (4-7 June 2009) will be the first test of civic engagement among its recently enlarged electorate of some half billion people. It will also provide fresh data about voting patterns which will feed into a new section on International IDEA’s website. Our Voter Turnout database already contains the most comprehensive collection of political participation statistics in the world and this now includes a dedicated area focusing on voter turnout in European Parliament elections.
Africa: constitution-building vs coup-making
The experience of creating new constitutions in Africa promises a transformation in the continent’s landscape of governance that will render coups obsolete, says International IDEA’s Winluck Wahiu & Paulos Tesfagiorgis.
The gender of democracy matters
A democracy worth the name must have women's equality with men at its heart. Thus gender equality must be an explicit goal for democracy-building processes and institutions, says International IDEA’s Rumbidzai Kandawasvika-Nhundu.
What can the European Union do for you?
The European Union (EU) is a significant player on the world stage. It is seen as having a history and example from which others could learn from. It consists of 27 countries living out their own understanding of democracy. Yet it lacks a coherent voice.
Taking stock of democracy
International IDEA is launching the State of Democracy Network website. It aims to serve as a practical resource for anyone and everyone interested in assessing the quality of democracy in their own country.
Direct Democracy: unpacking political participation
The air in Pretoria is alive with thunder, lightening and talk of the upcoming 2009 general elections. This electric environment proved to be the perfect backdrop for the 4 December 2008 launch of International IDEA’s newest publication, Direct Democracy: The International IDEA Handbook at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) Kutlwanong Democracy Centre in Pretoria.
Citizens' tool for checking the health of their democracies
A week after Americans demonstrated the empowering potential of democracy by electing their first African American President a new guide has been published to help people around the world conduct a health check on their own governments and institutions. It has been developed by International IDEA and was launched at a seminar in New York on 13 November 2008.
Colombian politics is still an uphill fight for women
Although some women have reached important leadership positions in Colombian politics in the past century, Colombia lagged behind other Latin American countries in women’s suffrage and adoption of a quota law, and much remains to be done to increase women’s access to the public sphere and their political participation and representation.
Democracy for development; development for democracy!
Popular support for democracy is as strong around the globe as it has ever been. But those who invest their hopes and their political commitment in democracy do not aim just at free and fair elections: they aspire to a more dignified and more rewarding life. The major challenge for democracy today is to deliver on its many promises.
A New Dawn – Election Day in Nepal
As the sun rose over Kathmandu on April 10 on the cusp of the Hindu new year 2065, voters started appearing to get in line to elect a Constituent Assembly. The streets were deserted with no cars which gave a serene calm to the normally noisy, bustling horn-beeping streets.
Nepal’s Constitutional Assembly elections
Nepal is finally on its way to realize its long cherished dream of having a Constitution drafted by a popularly elected Constituent Assembly (CA). The demand for an elected CA was raised first in 1950, in the midst of anti-Rana revolution. But it withered away under the pressure of various forces; the assertive feudal vested interests that rallied around the Monarchy in the post-Rana evolution of polity, the compulsions of compromises by the democratic parties to remain in and around power and, the active connivance of international community, India in particularly, that preferred a gradual and controlled pace of political transition in the interest of stability and order. The aversion of all these three forces that have been shaping Nepal’s destiny so far, could not be shaken even by the first real popular uprising, Jan Andolan – I, in 1990, which notionally transferred sovereignty to the people but did not ensure their participation in the Constitution making.
What’s in a day?
Oatmeal gets a day (January 2). Potatoes get a whole year (2008)! And, in case you were wondering, herbs are feted the second week of May.
March 8, however, is a day about people—not produce. For the more than 3.2 billion women on the planet, March 8 is the day when we are specially called to take stock, denounce the injustices, inspire through our stories, and celebrate our achievements.
Pakistan: Elections and Violence
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007 resulted in the rescheduling of parliamentary elections from 4 January to 18 February 2008. With the continuation of violence, some fear that the elections will be postponed yet again, or even worse that the army will interfere and cancel them.
Voting from Abroad
As the number of countries holding democratic elections has increased, the ability of people to exercise their right to vote from outside their home country when an election takes place has become an issue of greater interest.
Political parties: necessary for democracy?
Political parties are not exactly the darlings of public opinion. Just like politicians, parties usually get a bad rap: parties only want power, they abuse government and look after themselves rather than the public good. Sounds familiar?
The public perception of parties in young or established democracies doesn’t differ that much either. But like them or not, modern representative democracy cannot do without political parties.
Bolivia — High stakes at a critical moment
The stalemate in the Bolivian Constituent Assembly and the ethnic, regional, institutional and political conflicts that have arisen during its year of work illustrate why building a constitution — as opposed to drafting one — is a highly political process. The greatest difficulty the delegates face is not so much the actual drafting and approval of some 300 articles, but the process for examining the underlying issues.
Evaluating democracy support
Democracy support has increased significantly in the last two decades and so has the debate on how to effectively evaluate its impact and account. A central question in the on-going debate is whether methodologies used should be different from those used for evaluating other areas of development support.
Democracy and Diversity: Confronting the ‘Turtle Tendency’
Human diversity is a defining feature of countries across the globe. And increasingly it is also recognized as a force for social good, something to be nourished and celebrated rather than feared, or pushed to the margins. But, as Norwegian State Secretary Raymond Johansen noted in his opening remarks at the International IDEA Round Table on ‘Democracy and Diversity’ held in Oslo on 12 June, how are we to respond to the fact that the more diversity you have in your society, the lower prevailing levels of social trust are likely to be? How, in other words, should modern democracies go about managing what he dubbed a ‘society of turtles’ – resolute individualists prone to retreat into their shells at the first hint of outside interference?
A majority of Nepalese favours a republic, says an International IDEA survey
The public in Nepal favours a republic. That was one of the key findings in a national State of Democracy 2007 survey in Nepal conducted in April this year by the national team of the South Asia Democracy Study Group and International IDEA. Compared to the first round of the survey conducted in 2004, public opinion has shifted decisively on the issue of the country’s preferred constitutional arrangements, with an increase from 15 to 59 per cent of survey respondents choosing a republic over retention of the current monarchy.
Quality is the new story
It is official. The debate has moved on. South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said it openly in her opening address to the International Conference on Sustaining Africa's Democratic Momentum, which ran from March 5th-7th at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, that Africa's democratic coming of age is old news. The new story, said Mlambo-Ngcuka, is the quality of this democracy.
State of Democracy in South Asia
What has democracy done for South Asia and what has South Asia done for democracy? These questions recur in the State of Democracy in South Asia report, launched in New Delhi, India on 4 December 2006.
Latin American Elections: Redrawing the Political Map
Between November 2005 and the end of 2006, Latin America has an intense and important electoral agenda. During this time 12 of the region’s 18 countries — hold presidential elections. The political map of the region will be redrawn.
Effective electoral assistance: beyond election day
In recent years, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Indonesia, Palestine, Sierra Leone have all faced immense challenges in preparing elections. In some of these places, such as Sierra Leone, Indonesia, and Palestine, electoral assistance has proven to contribute to stability, and better electoral processes. In others, large sums of money have been spent on electoral technology which will need to be maintained after polling day.