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Helsinki: Protecting Elections Workshop

June 19, 2024 • By Julia Thalin
Protecting Elections Workshop Helsinki group photo by Make Photo / International IDEA.
International IDEA and the Finnish Ministry of Justice organized a Protecting Elections Workshop in Helsinki, Finland, on 17-18 June. This event, the first since formalizing their partnership under the Protecting Elections project, brought together various national organizations to discuss electoral integrity challenges and solutions. Finland is a mature democracy with excellent track record in the organization of elections. The electoral management is the responsibility of a dedicated team within the Ministry of Justice, which—due to a wealth of knowledge and experiences—is considered an important project partner.

Funded by the Government of Canada, the Protecting Elections project aims to develop an integrated framework that adopts a holistic approach to protecting elections. This approach promotes risk management, resilience building, and crisis management practices in electoral management, aiming to strengthen the capacity of electoral stakeholders to safeguard electoral integrity in their specific contexts.

The Helsinki workshop is the second of its kind under the project, following the inaugural event held in Mauritius in February this year. Mirroring the structure of the Mauritius workshop, Finnish participants—including electoral officials and representatives from state agencies and local authorities—engaged in activities to map electoral integrity challenges and propose courses of actions to mitigate risks, deal with threats, and recover from crises. The workshop featured presentations by International IDEA on the protecting elections methodology and hands-on group work.

During group work, representatives from different organizations compared notes and collaboratively identified major internal and external risk factors. One example includes the need to formalize certain electoral management processes, particularly on local level. Participants also stressed the importance of further strengthening resilience to problematic online actions and provocative use of social media by political actors. Furthermore, they used HEAT-risk maps to estimate the likelihood and impact of individual risk factors, and based on these assessments, they considered relevant courses of action.

Participants found the workshop highly beneficial, confirming the project’s relevance in the Finnish context. Additionally, the best practices and insights shared by participants will significantly enhance the project resources and benefit the broader community of practice.

Looking ahead, International IDEA plans to organize a capacity development workshop in Helsinki this fall. Also this upcoming workshop will mirror the approach taken in Mauritius; building on the insights gained from the recent event to further strengthening the knowledge and capacity of electoral stakeholders to address their specific challenges.

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About the authors

Julia Thalin
Associate Programme Officer, Electoral Processes
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