On the 12th of September 2019, International IDEA hosted a panel discussion on the “Timing and Sequencing of Transitional Elections” at the Press Club Brussels Europe.
This panel discussion follows the eponymous conference that took place in New-York last May. Both events aimed to discuss the ideas presented in the Policy Paper “Timing and Sequencing of Transitional Elections” as well as the findings of the 15 case studies that accompany it. Representatives of some of the 15 countries used as case studies were present and their points of view proved central to the interactive discussion which took place after the presentations.
Sead Alihodzic, Senior Programme Officer at International IDEA, presented his findings as one of the authors of the Policy Paper and instigator of the panel discussion. Isabel Martinho, Deputy Head of the Democracy and Electoral Observation Division at the European External Action Service (EEAS), initiated the conversation. Thomas Millar, Head of the Democratic Governance Sector at the European Commission (DG DEVCO), Peter Vanhoutte, Former EU mediator in the Republic of North Macedonia and Monique van Es, Specialist in conflict mediation and reconciliation, followed. Sam van der Staak, Head of the Europe Programme at IDEA, moderated the discussion.
The experts emphasized the importance of a deep understanding of the local context and of the role of civil society in shaping the transitional elections environment. Moreover, they underlined that the broader context and the constitutive nature of electoral cycles for the future democratic state should be considered, particularly in making often dangerous decisions regarding power-sharing. As for the role of the international community in Transitional Elections, it should be noted that its intervention should be highly targeted, and that the absence of international actions should also be understood as a message.
The informal conversation that followed greatly enriched the panel discussion as many guests including a representative of the Embassy of Liberia, a journalist from the Brussels Times and an advisor from the European Center for Electoral Support shared their questions, concerns, and hopes for transitional elections.