By WFD Senior Election Adviser, Tanja Hollstein, and Ben Graham Jones So far, the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed no less than 64 elections. It has become clear that COVID-19 is a long-term disruptive force that the electoral world must learn to live with. Policy responses to the virus may safeguard or endanger the integrity of […]
WFD launches new partnership for electoral assistance in Africa
On 12 September 2017, WFD signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) to expand its electoral assistance programme during a side event to the Democracy UK conference marking 25 years since the establishment of the Foundation.
WFD’s new Strategic Framework 2017-2022 outlines the organisation’s focus on building of partnerships with leading implementers in the democracy and governance field. It also expands WFD’s programmatic focus to include strengthening electoral institutions, contributing to more credible, inclusive and peaceful elections. The partnership with EISA reinforces WFD’s strategic commitments by establishing a formal commitment to collaborate through information sharing and development of key projects in the region.
Both organisations recognise that elections in Africa have made significant progress towards inclusiveness and credibility but agree there are still many challenges to overcome. In particular, there is need for: immediate post-election support to implement the recommendations of regional and international observer missions; developing the skills of local citizen observers and support for parties to develop their capacity to effectively monitor the electoral process, including the ability conduct parallel tabulation of results to increase accountability. Through their new partnership, WFD and EISA intended to jointly fundraise and develop regional initiatives.
EISA is the African continent’s leading electoral support organisation. It was established in 1996 to promote credible elections, participatory democracy, human rights culture and the strengthening of governance institutions for the consolidation of democracy in Africa. The organisation has grown significantly since its founding and now support selection management bodies, political parties, parliaments and local observers across the continent. EISA is a valuable support to regional bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), providing capacity building and advice on regional election monitoring activities.
Signing the MoU, Executive Director of EISA Denis Kadima, said: “EISA anticipates that this agreement will enable the two organisations to carry out joint initiatives toward the strengthening of political organisations and the enhancement of electoral and political processes at local, national, regional and global levels for the advancement and deepening of democracy.”
There’s no ‘right’ way to adapt elections to COVID-19 – but there is a right way to make those decisions
As governments decide to postpone elections or alter electoral processes because of COVID-19, it is crucial that they have a transparent debate about doing so. Importantly, they must consult key stakeholders or public trust in the electoral processes can be severely damaged and democracy weakened.
Those interested in democracy and good governance should be alive to both the risks and the opportunities posed by the coronavirus pandemic – their voices could make the difference between setback and progress.