Electoral processes

Lessons from Covid-19 era elections in Republic of Korea

Polling booth

International IDEA generated lessons from the Republic of Korea to inform, inspire and guide other countries on how to manage risks in the electoral process in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Capturing and sharing comparative knowledge at a critical juncture, when there is a gap, acts as a conduit for peer support among electoral management bodies around the world. Since the early stages of the outbreak, Covid-19 placed unprecedented pressure on countries to decide whether to hold or postpone their scheduled elections. Confronted with the prospect of potentially spreading the virus, numerous countries opted to defer the vote; the Republic of Korea was one of the first to decide to hold elections as scheduled—for the National Assembly, in April 2020. 

International IDEA’s Technical Paper, ‘Managing Elections under the Covid-19 Pandemic: the Republic of Korea’s Crucial Test’, closely analysed these elections and extracted key lessons to be learned. Sharing this knowledge globally through numerous events has helped inform, inspire and guide other countries that are holding elections during the pandemic.

This knowledge has contributed to a shift in the initial trend to postpone elections that characterized the early months of the pandemic. The new global trend is to hold elections, using the risk mitigation measures pioneered by the Republic of Korea. International IDEA has supported a wide range of its boundary partners in their efforts to understand the conditions, measures, equipment and behaviours needed to ensure a safe, technically sound and participatory election during a pandemic.

Feature photo: Jens-Olaf-Walter.