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Elections in Emergencies and Crisis – book launched in the Swiss Parliament

May 15, 2023 • By Erik Asplund
Massimo Tommasoli, Director of Global Programmes and Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the United Nations

On 9 May 2023, International IDEA presented findings and recommendations from 'Elections in Emergencies and Crisis:  Lessons for Electoral Integrity from the Covid-19 Pandemic' at the parliamentary conference “Election in Times of Crisis” organized by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Swiss Parliament.

The event, which was attended by more than 200 participants in the Swiss Parliament in Bern provided a unique opportunity for election management bodies, lawmakers, and the election assistance community to share lessons on electoral processes about the pandemic, natural disasters, armed conflict, and ICT (artificial intelligence, disinformation, e-voting). During the first and second sessions, International IDEA emphasized the need for a joint framework on how election observation missions should approach emergencies and a single framework that combines risk management, resilience building, and crisis management. The final declaration from the conference calls for action among policymakers and practitioners to engage in electoral reform to protect elections from future emergencies.


About the International IDEA and Electoral Integrity Project bookElections in Emergencies and Crisis:
Lessons for Electoral Integrity from the Covid-19 Pandemic
(James, Clark and Asplund 2023)


Elections often have to be held in emergency situations. The Covid-19 pandemic was one of the most serious emergency situations that the world has seen. The rapid spread of the virus presented a huge humanitarian threat—but also an unparalleled challenge to electoral stakeholders globally seeking to protect electoral integrity during times of uncertainty. This volume identifies how the pandemic affected electoral integrity, what measures were put in place to protect elections and what worked in defending them. It brings together a comprehensive set of 26 country case studies to explore how elections were affected on the ground, what measures were put in place and what worked. These case studies are of elections which took place in the eye of the storm when practitioners and policymakers were operating under uncertainty and without the benefit of hindsight. 

To learn lessons in a more systematic way, this volume also provides a thematic analysis of electoral integrity during the pandemic using cross-national studies. This provides the big picture for policymakers, practitioners and academics looking back at the crisis. The volume therefore seeks to contribute towards the future development of policy and practice. However, it does so by using academic research methods and concepts which enable greater confidence in the policy lessons, as well as contributing directly to the scholarship on democracy, democratization and elections. The volume includes 11 areas of recommendation based on the evidence collected in this volume to protect electoral integrity in any future emergency situation.

For more insights from the book, listen to a recent interview with Professor Toby James on Monocle (from 12:08)


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About the authors

Erik Asplund
Senior Programme Officer, Elections and Crisis
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