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EMB Dialogue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

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Free, fair and credible elections are the centrepiece of any democracy and electoral management bodies (EMBs) are often the organizations tasked with putting theory into practice when organizing elections.

The challenges they face might vary from logistical, technical and practical to security issues, low participation and making sure everyone accepts the outcome of the elections. And examples of both failed and successful solutions are many.

In this context International IDEA organized the second Member State EMB Dialogue in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 30 November. The dialogue was a chance for representatives of Member State EMBs to share experiences between them as well as with IDEA’s Electoral Processes team and the African Programme.

Representatives from several EMBs including Mexico, Ghana, Costa Rica, India and Australia attended the event along with embassy representatives from Indonesia, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Democratic transitions are home-grown processes, said Keboitse Machangana Director of Global Programmes at International IDEA. No country has the exact same systems as another but even so there are plenty of lessons to be learned by looking at how other countries have tackled specific problems when evaluating your options.

One such problem is the timing of elections in post-conflict countries, said Keboitse Machangana, Director of Global Programmes at International IDEA.

“Democratic transitions … cannot be forced into international time tables. This applies to the practice of elections where we have often seen the entire process compromised by forcing early elections.”

The timing of elections is one area where Annette Fath-Lihic, head of IDEA’s Electoral Processes programme, want to focus on in 2016 along with the problems resulting from migration when it comes to impacting electoral processes.

“There are two parts to elections; one technical and one practical. Especially in post conflict countries there is a threshold where certain technicalities that need to be in place before you can even consider holding an election.”

“We also need to look at globalization and electoral rights. Millions of people are internally displaced and millions live in countries where they are not citizens and don’t have full voting rights. This will affect democracy and we need to look at how.”

The Electoral Processes Programme already does extensive work in the areas of Electoral Justice, Elections and ICTs, Media and Elections, Electoral Risk Management as well as maintains nine databases for comparative data.