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Practitioner Perspectives on Financing of Elections

January 24, 2020 • By Erik Asplund

The election management bodies (EMBs) across the globe are legally responsible for the management of some or all of the core functions of the conduct of elections and direct democracy instruments. However most EMBs are not financially independent.

EMBs that have legal independence, but not financial independence, are reliant on government funding. They are held accountable on how funds are used or mishandled, for example in the event of inadequate administrative planning or unforeseen events. EMBs that do not have financial independence are increasingly expected to fulfill their core function or expand on core functions without the adequate and timely financial backing of the national budget (Election costs: Informing the narrative, International IDEA, 2017).

International IDEA has continued to work with partners in order to build a community of practice (CoP) around the topic of budgeting and financing of elections and to develop a state-of-the-art BRIDGE training module on the topic. At an Expert Group Workshop in November 2017 and a conference in Windhoek, participants suggested that the financing of electoral process should be reframed as an investment and not a cost. Please see conference report for more information.  

The BRIDGE module on Financing of Elections (which will be made available on the BRIDGE website in early 2021)  explores some of the general principles and standard of sound financial planning – in a general sense relating to all electoral administration, and also specifically in relation to financial processes (see attachment). The module includes more than 40 activities, each with specific key understanding and  learning outcomes (see attachment). Each activity makes use of various resources including: BRIDGE partner handbooks (including: Electoral Management Design Handbook chapter on Financing of EMBs), reports, articles, newspaper extracts and case studies on the topic. Moreover, the module includes several materials from EMBs such as organizational charts, budgets, strategic and operational plans. The module includes more than a dozen Audio Videos produced by International IDEA and partners that features election experts and practitioners talking about the topic based on their own experiences. All of the videos and audio recordings are now available via the links bellow or directly on International IDEA’s You Tube channel.

The BRIDGE module was piloted in Dili, Timor-Leste during in August 2019 during a regional BRIDGE workshop. The workshop was organized by Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE), the National Elections Commission (CNE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International IDEA.  Some 30 election professionals and electoral reform advocates from Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malawi attended the workshop. For some perspectives on the BRIDGE programme and the module on financing of elections in particular, please view the videos below and the ones available here.


Multimedia Content on Financing of Electoral Processes

Other resources


For further information about the module or interest to pilot the module please contact Erik Asplund (

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About the authors

Erik Asplund
Senior Programme Officer, Elections and Crisis
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