Elections are the cornerstone of democratic governance and political stability. Through elections, governments obtain their democratic mandate and are held accountable for their performance in office.
Since our founding in 1995, International IDEA has helped election management bodies (EMBs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and other state and non-state actors to support and restore the integrity of electoral processes and institutions.
Our Electoral Processes Programme has three key components to support the integrity of electoral processes and institutions.
Ensure legal and institutional frameworks are fit-for-purpose.
The integrity of electoral processes and institutions is best secured through the careful design of electoral legislation and institutions that entrench resilience to negative political interferences, fraud, mismanagement, violence and acts of impunity. This is particularly true in young and hybrid democracies and countries transitioning from authoritarian regimes to democratic government.
We support EMBs, lawmakers and other state and non-state actors to advocate for, design and establish quality, fair and effective election-related legal and institutional frameworks.
Build the capacity of electoral authorities to deliver.
A lack of capacity within EMBs to undertake elections can undermine the integrity of electoral processes and institutions and can lead to political instability or violence. Capacity challenges occur in both nascent and mature democracies and include a lack of knowledge and skills, poor management practices, technical and logistical challenges, or funding shortages.
We help EMBs and state actors to build their knowledge, skills and tools to protect electoral integrity. We also work with CSOs and other actors to monitor and advocate for credible electoral processes.
Support informed engagement in electoral processes by electoral stakeholders.
The key function of elections is to ensure the legitimacy of those who hold public office, or conversely, allow voters to dispose of unwanted rulers. For this to happen, elections need to be inclusive and participatory. Disfranchisement and low participation undermine the legitimacy of election results, regardless of electoral context.
To support inclusive electoral participation, we help maintain essential electoral rights and related civil and political rights, ensuring there are legal mechanisms to restore these rights when there are disputes or violations. Further, we research how different administrative procedures and the media affect voter turnout, as well as how information and communication technology (ICT) can remove barriers to participation, such as for out-of-country voters and innovative direct democracy. We also provide knowledge resources and expert advice on voting for economic and refugee diasporas and internally displaced persons (IDP). We support EMBs, CSOs and security sector agencies to respond to the use of psychological and physical violence to deter participation of marginalized groups. In particular, we work with experts on gender-based discrimination and violence to improve women participation.
Our joint projects
We are active partners in a number of joint projects that support knowledge sharing on best practices and practical tips, as well as capacity building for election practitioners and policymakers.
The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network
The ACE Electoral Knowledge Network is an online knowledge repository for information and customized advice on electoral processes. Established in 1998, ACE has eight partners: The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), Elections Canada, Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), International IDEA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Electoral Assistance Division of the UN Department of Political Affairs (UNEAD) and The Carter Center (TCC).
ACE is the world’s first online resource of its kind in the field of elections and the world’s largest online source of electoral knowledge, with more than 2 million annual visits per year. It provides more than 10,000 pages of specialized thematic information, country and regional information, comparative data, a global election calendar and an election observation portal. It also provides real time knowledge services and exchange through the ACE Practitioners’ Network, an online network of more than 1000 election professionals from around the world sharing electoral experience and knowledge. Membership is free and politically non-affiliated. To learn more please visit aceproject.org.
The Building Resources in Democracy Governance and Elections (BRIDGE)
BRIDGE is a modular professional development programme with a particular focus on electoral processes. BRIDGE was established in 2001 by five organizations leading the democracy and governance field: the Australian Electoral Commission, International IDEA, the International Foundation of Electoral Systems, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division.
The five BRIDGE partners have committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available, designed to be used as a tool within a broader capacity development framework. It is the main tool for face-to-face capacity development in the field. Since 2001, thousands of BRIDGE workshops have been delivered in more than 100 countries to more than15, 000 participants. Currently, there are several modules being updated or developed for release in 2018. To learn more please visit: http://www.bridge-project.org/en/.
The Master in Electoral Policy and Administration (MEPA) programme
MEPA was developed by International IDEA, in partnership with the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), to provide comprehensive and advanced learning about electoral processes to current and aspiring election professionals. Boasting the most reputed international experts in the field, MEPA is based on International IDEA’s 2014 Model Curriculum, drawing on International IDEA’s concept of the ‘electoral cycle’. International IDEA also financially sponsored and developed the material for seven of the 19 modules available.
MEPA is a response to a global, structural demand for qualified electoral professionals. It targets mid- to upper-level professionals who want to acquire the specific knowledge and skills to work as election administrators and/or to work as a part of election management bodies (EMBs). The programme involves a nine-month online component and an optional three-week residential component at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. To learn more about MEPA and apply online, visit www.mastermepa.santannapisa.it. Please direct all inquiries to the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +38 050 882685 or mobile: +39 3929986218.
Priorities of engagement
International IDEA’s knowledge resources on electoral processes have distinguished themselves in breadth and scope from those of other organizations and that they have responded to the needs of stakeholders.
Elections and Covid-19
For state-of-the-art analysis and publications on elections and Covid-19, please visit our Global overview of COVID-19: Impact on elections report. The report is updated on a regular basis and is available in English and Spanish.
Training, Education and Research in Electoral Administration
International IDEA has developed a series of country case studies to better understand the dynamics of opening and operating electoral training and education facilities in different environments. These case studies as well as other materials on the topic are available on our Training, Education and Research in Electoral Administration report which is updated on a continuous basis.
Elections and conflict
We continue to share the Electoral Risk Management Tool (ERM Tool) as a global public good and work with our Member States and global, regional and national partners in supporting the Tool's application in priority countries. Building on the ERM Tool we use its knowledge and lessons from its implementation to inform country-level support for electoral conflict prevention and mitigation, including training on the safety of elections with UNDP Asia and the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP).
Elections and the media
International IDEA enhances its knowledge base on the role of media at all stages of the electoral cycle. Special attention is given to the effects of social media on youth participation in electoral processes, the changing nature of election campaigning, and the role of new media in direct democracy initiatives. Targeted knowledge products including a Policy Paper on Media Assistance and Elections and Social Media: A Practical Guide for Electoral Management Bodies aim to link relevant media issues with International IDEA’s established areas of expertise and develop new partnerships.
Elections and information and communications technologies
In the area of technology, we produce guidance and good practices for the introduction and maintenance of new technologies to ensure that they enhance transparency and credibility of the electoral process. A new database mapping the global use of technology in elections has been developed to enhance the Institute’s knowledge base in this area. Building on the success of the Policy Paper on Introducing Electronic Voting, specific themes will be selected for a series of short publications on guidance for sustainable use of electoral technology throughout the electoral cycle; debates between open and proprietary software solutions; and the perceived and real comparative advantages of various electoral information and communications technologies.
There are several areas of non-engagement for our organization. These include election observation and electoral procurement.