Forging a state and civil society partnership on electoral processes in Fiji
Preparing the foundation for a partnership to support Fiji’s electoral institutions and processes
Fiji held its first democratic elections in 2014, following the 2006 coup d’état. But tensions and a lack of dialogue between the country’s CSOs and electoral management body led to a serious lack of trust in its electoral process. Under the European Union-funded project, ‘Upholding Citizens’ Constitutional Rights for Democratic Consolidation in Fiji (C3-Fiji)’, International IDEA is working to bridge the gap and create a dialogue between these two key players.
The project started in 2018, ahead of that year’s general elections, and will continue through October 2020.
At the suggestion of the supervisor of elections, Mohammed Saneem, the Institute supported the establishment of a formal partnership between the Electoral Commission, the Fijian Elections Office and several interested CSOs as a platform for collaboration.
The partnership will review the legal framework of Fiji’s electoral institutions and processes and provide recommendations on how to improve electoral policies and practices. In addition, the partnership aims to increase civil society participation in conducting voter education with the guidance of the Fijian Elections Office. It also provides opportunities to familiarize CSOs with election observation methodologies and practices, and to prepare them to observe future elections.
The partnership’s terms of engagement are currently under development, but it has already produced a notable change in relationships between the EMB and civil society in Fiji, according to Florence Swamy, executive director of the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, one of C3-Fiji project partners.
‘International IDEA in this process had a solid role. They were making a strategic partnership with the [Fijian Elections Office] but also, they were bringing together locally, partners that weren’t working together and we were able to feed off each other to deliver our programs quite well.’ — Florence Swamy, executive director, Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (a C3-Fiji project partner)
The supervisor of elections has also praised the initiative.
‘International IDEA has provided us immense expertise as well as resource material in terms of the running and conduct of elections. We feel very much appreciated as a small election management body. This gives us a lot of encouragement in terms of our partnership. I am very, very grateful for the programmes that we have run in the last [electoral] cycle and I am looking forward to using the services and expertise of International IDEA to further the activities planned for the next cycle.’ — Mohammed Saneem, supervisor of elections
International IDEA supported civil society in Fiji to engage and collaborate on electoral reforms in an informed and effective way.
Read more stories about International IDEA's results in our Annual Outcome Report 2019: Democracy In Action.